The Foreign Ministry has in recent days exchanged "strong words" with the Norwegian embassy in Tel Aviv over a diplomatic document the embassy sent back to Oslo calling for criticism of Israel for allegedly using torture in prisons, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said Thursday night.
The Norwegian state radio network NRK reported Thursday it had obtained a secret diplomatic document from the embassy urging action by "expressing our concern that torture is still practiced in Israel." According to NRK, the embassy's concern stemmed from a report by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel claiming that prisoners were sometimes beaten during interrogation, held in painfully tight handcuffs and suffered isolation, threats, humiliation and sleep deprivation.
Diplomatic officials in Israel said that there was "anger and disapproval inside the Foreign Ministry at the way the Norwegian embassy is conducting its business." The officials said that the Norwegian embassy was "acting in an unprofessional and very one-sided way, and that their actions bordered on hostility."
The officials expressed astonishment that the Norwegian embassy sent its report back to Oslo based on reports by NGOs without asking for any formal Israeli clarification.
The officials said that the job of embassies is to represent the position of the host government to their own governments, but it seemed like the Norwegian embassy "is not interested in what the government has to say."
"In Norway in particular, and Scandinavia in general, there is all too often an anti-Israeli agenda and climate of opinion. This type of behavior is just going to foster more blatant, one-sided anti-Israeli feeling there," one official said.
It was not possible Thursday evening to obtain a response from the Norwegian embassy in Tel Aviv.
Norway's Deputy Foreign Minister Raymond Johansen said he was aware of the document, but had not decided whether to act upon the advice.
"We have a number of difficult cases to raise with the Israeli authorities, not in the least in relation to the Israel-Palestinian conflict," Johansen said on NRK. "Every government must exercise good judgment in which matters to raise at any given time."