New Palestinian embassy not popular with the Israelis

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Palestinian plans to upgrade their representative office in Oslo to a full-fledged embassy may become a reality late next year, but not without protests from Israel.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said earlier this month that the Palestinian embassy plans are in line with what other countries have arranged with the Palestinians, such as the US, Spain, France and Greece. He called the embassy project a “recognition” of steps the Palestinians have taken to create a state.

The Israeli foreign ministry, however, has delivered a formal protest to the Norwegian Embassy in Tel Aviv. Israeli officials pointed out that the Palestinians have refused to continue direct negotiations, and claimed an embassy for the Palestinians won’t contribute to the peace process. The peace process, however, is also once again disrupted by the Israelis’ refusal to stop expanding settlements in disputed territory.

The Israeli government has also reportedly been “furious” with Norwegian officials, residents and the media over Norway’s desire to have a dialogue with Palestinian officials as well as with Israeli officials, over Norway’s criticism of Israel’s invasion of Gaza two years ago, and over what Israel claims has been Norway’s tacit support for Hamas. According to reports from the US Embassy and made available by WikiLeaks, Israel hasn’t wanted Norway to have any bigger role in future peace negotiations.

Norway’s charge d’affaires in Tel Aviv, Vebjørn Dysvik, confirmed being called in for a meeting on the embassy issue to newspaper Aftenposten but otherwise refused to comment beyond noting that the upgrading of Palestinian representation in Norway doesn’t mean Norway has recognized a Palestinian state.

Views and News staff