Pro-Israel groups in Norway hailed Monday’s national Norwegian elections that
will bring to power a center-right government expected to be considerably more
sympathetic to Israel than the outgoing coalition.
supporters in Norway there is generally a sense of relief that the Norwegian
people voted out of power those who have very little understanding for Israel
and some of whom worked for a boycott of Israel,” said Conrad Myrland, head of
With Israel for Peace (Med Israel for Fred), the largest non-religious, pro-Israel organization in the country.
Norway’s opposition Conservatives,
headed by Erna Solberg, swept to victory on Monday. They are poised to form a
coalition with the populist right-wing Progress Party and two small centrist
parties, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals.
Myrland termed both
the Progress Party, which has an anti-immigration and an anti-tax plank, and the
Christian Democrats as pro-Israel.
The new coalition will replace the
center-left government of Labor Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who ruled as
head of a “Red-Green Coalition” that included the Centre Party and the Socialist
According to Myrland, each of the four parties now likely to
form the new government issued statements saying they would advocate a more
understanding policy toward Israel.
In August, the national Christian
daily Vart Land
published statements by the different parties regarding
Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide, the Conservative party head of the
Foreign Affairs Committee in the outgoing parliament who is touted as a possible
foreign minister candidate, said her party’s policies on Israel and the Middle
East would be marked by “a little less dogmatism and a little more realism and
understanding of self. That should be the basis of Norwegian policy in
the Middle East.”
Progress Party’s Peter Myhre said his party would
“reduce the criticism that the current [outgoing] government has used when
Israel wants to defend itself. The country’s right to defend itself is very
The Christian Democrat’s Hans Olav Syversen, who was head of
the Friends of Israel group in parliament from 2009 to 2011, said one of the
changes that would be brought about by the election of a new coalition would be
a “new rhetoric” on Israel. “You will not see us asking for boycotts [of
Israel],” he said.
Myrland said that while the newly elected prime
minister was not “generally occupied with foreign affairs, she and her people
will be more understanding of the Israeli perspective than the outgoing
He acknowledged, however, that foreign policy played little
role in the campaign.
He also downplayed a quote attributed to Solberg
in 2011 after the Breivik murders
to the effect that anti-Muslim sentiment in
Norway was similar to the anti-Semitism in the 1930s.
Solberg said that
she was misquoted, and Myrland said that sentiment – which raised some eyebrows
– was never repeated.
In 2008, when Myrland’s organization asked Solberg
to write a greeting in a book it had published in honor of Israel’s 60th
birthday, she wrote, “Culturally, historically and politically, there is no land
in the Middle East that is closer to Norway than Israel.”
that all of the likely parties in the new coalition have said they would review
Norway’s non-critical economic support of the Palestinian Authority. Norway is
one of the PA’s biggest donors, giving some $52 million annually.
the Conservative party has been strongly critical of the former government for
giving money to the PA to pay salaries to terrorists sitting in Israeli jails,”
According to Myrland, the overall tone of Norway-Israel
relationship is now likely to change. “There will still be criticism,” he said.
“They will still criticize settlement construction, but it might be done in a
more understanding way and will not be lifted up as the main hindrance – as some
in the government do now – to world peace.”