Norway: Hamas must recognize Israel

Hamas minister visiting in Oslo: first "give us a country, a state."

hamas atef adwan 298 88 (photo credit: Associated Press [file])
hamas atef adwan 298 88
(photo credit: Associated Press [file])
Norwegian Foreign Ministry officials met with Hamas minister Atef Adwan in Oslo on Saturday calling on the terrorist group to renounce violence and recognize Israel. Kaare Eltervaag, who heads the Foreign Ministry's division for Middle Eastern affairs, told Adwan that Hamas "has not lived up to our expectations," according to a statement on the government's Web site. "We realize that it takes time to change attitudes," the statement said. "But the Palestinian government must take clear steps in the right direction." Adwan was in Norway this weekend after a weeklong visit to Sweden, where he met with eight lawmakers, but no cabinet members or Foreign Ministry officials. Hamas, listed as a terrorist organization by both the European Union and the United States and has refused to comply with demands put forth by the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers - the EU, US, UN and Russia - to lay down their arms, recognize Israel and accept previous peace agreements with Israel. Adwan said earlier this week that Hamas would continue to resist the demands until Palestinians get an independent state. "Give us a country, a state, and then ask us to recognize Israel," he said at a news conference in Stockholm Tuesday. On Friday, Norway announced a 50 percent increase in its funding for UN Palestinian relief efforts, to $24.5 million. Also on Saturday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar praised terrorists in Israeli jails who hammered out a proposal that would implicitly recognize Israel, but said the prisoners did not have all the pertinent information. The agreement reached recently by the terrorists, including the most senior Hamas prisoner, calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state on the lands Israel captured in the Six Day War. The implicit recognition of Israel would be a major shift for Hamas, which calls for replacing Israel with an Islamic state. Hamas leaders responded ambivalently to the document. Some have privately urged abandoning Hamas's rejection of Israel in an effort to end the crippling international boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. Hard-liners, including Zahar, reportedly reject that plan. "Our people inside the Israeli jails, they are brilliant people. We are very proud about their role. But they are concentrating about issues according to their information, restricted information," Zahar said Saturday in English. "This is a respectable idea, but it is not the final agreement of any of the Palestinian factions, including Hamas."