Israel’s ambassador to Norway, Raphael Schutz, agreed to an exclusive interview with Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on its national nightly newscast Dagsrevyen on Wednesday. Schutz found himself confronted with videos of Israel forces shooting a Palestinian in the back and Israel soldiers cheering after they’d shot another Palestinian demonstrator.
Schutz has attracted media attention earlier during his nearly four-year tenure in Norway, mostly over his defiant defense of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. He recently offended many Norwegians after calling one of his critics a descendant of the notorious traitor during World War II, Vidkun Quisling, and claiming that Norway “cooperated with the Nazis.” Schutz has also equated criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.
In the interview with NRK he also defended Israel’s settlements in Palestinian territory. He dismissed their condemnation by the UN as being illegal, claiming that the UN is made up of a majority of non-democratic countries. Even though Israel’s own Supreme Court has referred to the disputed West Bank as occupied by a “belligerent” Israel and in a state of war, Schutz believes that merely shows how various state authorities within Israel can have different opinions.
Schutz, who encountered animosity himself when he first arrived in Norway, also attempted to justify the behaviour and reaction of overly aggressive Israeli soldiers, claiming they were simply pumped up with adrenalin, and that their shooting and cheering may not be “polite,” but did not constitute war crimes.
Israel’s envoy further claimed that his country is not trying to “punish” the Palestinian residents of beleaguered Gaza but rather “alleviate” the situation there following Israel’s pull-out in 2005 and the election of Hamas leaders who want to destroy Israel. He said a two-state solution could be accepted, with the Israelis and Palestinians finally living side by side in their own countries, if Israel hears from both the Palestinians and the international community that they recognize Israel as the national state of the Jewish people.
NRK journalist and news anchor Yama Wolasmal, himself a refugee whose family fled Afghanistan when he was a child, asked Israel’s ambassador whether the Palestianians would get their own country if they unite and recognize Israel. Schutz nodded, said he believes that would happen, that it would be morally correct and in Israel’s own interests.
See NRK’s inteview, which was conducted in English, here (external link to NRK’s website, in Norwegian, but scroll down to the second photo of Schutz for the full, nearly six-minute-long segment that aired on NRK Wednesday evening).