Israeli Embassy won’t budge

Officials at Israel’s controversial embassy in Oslo don’t want to move from their current location on a busy street just behind Norway’s Royal Palace, reports Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). They’ve appealed a deadline set by the city that the embassy must either move or tear down its illegal security wall within two years.

The controversial embassy, located just behind the Royal Palace in Oslo. PHOTO: Views and News

Another Israeli conflict continues to play out in Oslo, on an albeit much smaller scale than in the Middle East. Neighbours of the embassy have been complaining for more than a decade about its wall, erected in defiance of neighbourhood protests and in violation of local zoning regulations in 1999. The embassy also requires constant police protection and has been the target of noisy demonstrations that have disrupted traffic and hindered access to neighbouring properties.

The neighbourhood itself is one of Oslo’s most fashionable and historic, featuring mansions built in the 1800s. Israel chose one of them for its embassy, leading to conflicts with its neighbours ever since.

Israel has won repeated reprieves from the city, the latest just this spring when the city allowed the embassy to remain with its wall for another two years. City officials once again overruled neighbourhood protests, believing the Israeli Embassy officials were making “real” efforts to find another location with the help of Norway’s Foreign Ministry. The city pointed out, though, that Israel also had been earlier given more than 10 years to find new quarters, so another two years should suffice.

NRK, citing the pro-Israeli journal Karmel, reported that officials at the Israeli Embassy say they still aren’t being given enough time, and that a move will be expensive. They told Karmel that they want to stay where they are for at least another five years. Embassy officials have declined to comment to Norwegian media.

Embassy neighbours are frustrated, and also have appealed the city’s two-year extension, arguing it was too long. “If it’s necessary for them to have a half-meter-thick concrete wall and police surveillance when they drive in and out, then they don’t fit in to an area with offices and residences nearby,” Njål Høstmælingen, director of the International Law and Policy Institute next door, told NRK. 

The embassy’s appeal itself further drags out the process. City officials said it would be considered this summer. The city politician in charge of zoning matters, Bård Folke Fredriksen, declined immediate comment.

Views and News staff