Several protests took place in Norway as President Shimon Peres visited Oslo. About 15 people who gathered outside the royal palace tried to interfere with the visit but were dispersed by police, who arrested one of them.
Outside the parliamentary building, about 250 protesters from leftist organizations demonstrated and demanded the release of Palestinian Arabs being held in Israeli jails. Voice of Israel public radio said that the protest was quiet.
The local press has devoted much attention to the visit. The high circulation Aftenposten noted that Peres will likely invite King Harald to a return visit, thus placing him in an uncomfortable situation, in view of the growing criticism of Israel in Norway.
More protests were planned by 24 organizations.
“When the government invites the Israeli president on a state visit, one can only ask what signal Norway wants to send,” said Kathrine Jensen, head of the Norwegian Palestine Committee. She demanded that the Norwegian government “condemn Israeli occupation policy and their human rights abuses.”
Peres appeared unfazed by the protests.
He told reporters after meeting King Harald that he enjoyed visiting Norway, which he described as “a pearl of humanity.”
Peres said the chance for peace in the Middle East has not been lost. “Neither we nor the Palestinians have any other alternative but peace,” Norwegian broadcaster NRK quoted Peres as saying in a speech at an Oslo synagogue.