Svein Sevje 58.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The most important consequence of the anti-Norwegian articles in The Jerusalem
Post in recent weeks is not the baseless accusations they make, but that they
cloud one important fact: Norway remains committed both to the State of Israel
and its right to exist in security, and to the creation of a Palestinian
On Friday, August 5, the Post published a brave and much
appreciated apology to Norway and wished the Norwegian people a time to heal.
Yet in the week that followed, three seriously biased articles were published in
the paper, making grave, unfounded and unfair accusations against
I will not speculate about the motives of the authors of these
articles for showing such a lack of respect for our country at a time when the
Norwegian people are in mourning. I would, however, like to address one general
point, one that goes beyond the name-calling that generally characterized the
articles: It is true that Norway is pro-Palestinian; however, it is equally true
that it is pro-Israeli.
For historical and religious reasons, in Norway
there is great interest in the conflicts in the Middle East. And there has been
a corresponding will to assist in the management and resolution of the
conflicts, even in the years before the Oslo channel. Norwegian soldiers, in
total more than 40,000 of them, have served and continue to serve in the
peacekeeping mission on the borders of Israel, and several soldiers have lost
Norway contributes around 100 million euros a year to the
Palestinian Territory, to promote a two-state solution that both the Israeli
government and the PLO have as their stated political goal. Norway chairs the
Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee, where international donors coordinate their efforts.
The funding goes to the Palestinians, and Israel shares in the
Norway condemns all acts of terrorism, and considers it
essential to promote respect for international humanitarian law. Anyone with an
interest in recent political positions taken by Norway can see this for
themselves in the press releases and the regular foreign policy addresses by the
foreign minister to the Norwegian Parliament, which are published online at
www.government.no/mfa. The Norwegian government condemned the killing of four
Israelis outside Hebron in August 2010, and the murder of the Fogel family this
past March. It continues to demand the release of Gilad Schalit from Hamas
captivity. Norway also condemned the bomb attack in Jerusalem on March 23, and
has repeatedly condemned the rockets fired from Gaza by Hamas and other groups.
The same goes for Hezbollah’s actions along Israel’s northern
Repeatedly the Norwegian foreign minister has emphasized Israel’s
right to defend itself, but he has also called for proportionality in the
Israeli military responses and respect for international humanitarian law. He
stated that the killing of unarmed demonstrators in the Golan Heights on June 5
could not be justified, and Norway is among those who strongly criticize Israeli
building of illegal settlements on occupied territory.
Hamas: In 2007, Norway chose to engage with the Palestinian unity government,
which was based on a joint platform negotiated by Fatah, Hamas and independent
In bringing about the unity government, and
in our contact with this government after its formation, there were exchanges of
views at the political level with Hamas, until its violent takeover of Gaza.
Contact with Hamas, however, does not mean that we finance it, or that we
condone its use of terror, or that we approve of its charter or its political
program. We do not.
THE NORWEGIAN government believes that terrorism must
be fought with all available means – including with military power. At the same
time, we must also take a political approach and search for processes that can
lead groups away from terrorism and into politics.
The response of the
Norwegian people and their government to the terror attacks on July 22 has been
overwhelmingly in favor of not politicizing the event, but instead standing
together for a more open and inclusive society. In the campaign for Norway’s
local elections, to be held on September 12, extremist and accusatory rhetoric
is being avoided as people unite in defense of our democracy and values.
Fortunately the three recent articles in the Post stand in stark contrast to the
many and deeply touching expressions of sympathy that Norway has received from
both the Israeli government and Israeli citizens since July 22.The
writer is Norway’s ambassador to Israel.