Norwegian Foreign Minister Visits Israel
Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin met with Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide on Monday night in Jerusalem.
Norway is the leading donor state to the Palestinian Authority, and therefore has a special interest in the political process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The Norwegian FM agreed with Elkin that “the fact that a large percentage of the PA budget goes towards the funding of salaries of Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails is problematical.”
In response, the Deputy Foreign Minister said, “the educational message is troublesome, especially in the eyes of the young generation that understands that the most worthwhile job in the Palestinian Authority is that of terrorist," continuing that, in comparison, the salary of an employee in the security service is approximately one quarter of that of a terrorist residing in an Israeli prison.
Regarding the negotiations, Elkin noted the fears of the Israeli public, which is skeptical about the PA's ability to uphold the agreements.
"If in the Oslo agreement it was explicitly stated that the Palestinian Authority would take no unilateral actions to establish an independent state, and twenty years later they go to the UN asking for recognition of a Palestinian state, who will guarantee that they will abide by the conditions of a new agreement? After all, the international community, including Norway, guaranteed the terms of the Oslo Agreement, and today we see they are allowed to continue to take unilateral steps that only further us from a peace agreement. In this regard, the international community must insist that during current negotiations the PA will not take any additional unilateral steps."
The issue of the civil war in Syria was also discussed during the meeting. The fact that Israel must be prepared for every scenario if Syria launches an attack on Israel was emphasized. The Norwegian FM was briefed on this issue and told that Israel will respond forcefully to every attack.
Another issue on the agenda was the UN Human Rights Council. Israel suspended cooperation with the UNHRC because of it described as the Council's systematic discrimination against Israel. Currently, Israel is evaluating its position regarding cooperation with the UNHRC. The Deputy Foreign Minister thanked the Norwegian FM for his positive attitude regarding this issue.
The two leaders also discussed the bilateral relations between Israel and Norway; as well as the need to continue cooperation between the two countries in many fields such as increasing Norwegian investment in Israel, cooperation in the energy field, strengthening of the political dialogue and the research and development agreement. A dialogue on these topics will be held by a special delegation by the end of the year.