What is behind Norway’s recognition of the Palestinian State? | Israel-Palestine Conflict News

Norway, along with Ireland and Spain, recently announced its decision to formally recognize a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders, effective Tuesday.

Unsurprisingly, when the Palestinian Authority and Hamas welcomed this development, the Israeli government lashed out by quickly withdrawing its ambassadors from Oslo, Dublin and Madrid and summoning representatives from Norway, Ireland and Spain to Tel Aviv.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store explained that Norway’s decision was “in support of moderate forces who are on a retreating front in a protracted and cruel conflict.”

He said the move is an investment in the “only solution” that can bring lasting peace to the Middle East: “two states living side by side in peace and security.”

Analysts were not surprised by Norway’s move, which comes 30 years after it hosted the Oslo Accords, the peace agreements of the early 1990s that ultimately failed.

“The Norwegian population has long been moving towards a more pro-Palestinian vision. The political establishment has been more hesitant, not least because of its close ties to the United States,” Bjorn Olav Utvik, professor of Middle East studies at the University of Oslo, told Al Jazeera. “Since the outbreak of the current conflict, popular opinion has shifted even more towards the Palestinian cause.”

He issued the recognition as “an important symbolic move” and that is easier to carry out than, for example, “cutting all investments linked to Israel by the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund.”

With European countries deeply divided over the Israeli war in Gaza, Norway has reached out to those who openly support Palestinian rights to self-determination and basic dignity.

“We cannot wait any longer,” Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s foreign minister, recently told Al Jazeera. “The only viable long-term agreement that can bring peace to the Palestinian people and the Israeli people is a two-state solution. These two states, of course, must have logical territories. Many things will have to change.”

INTERACTIVE What were the Oslo agreements?
What were the Oslo agreements? (Al Jazeera)

Looking back, Oslo’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been firm.

Norwegian officials have maintained high levels of support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and have been quick to demand a ceasefire after the latest conflict broke out.

Norway previously condemned the Israeli occupation before the International Court of Justice. It does not export weapons to Israel and has sanctioned some “extremist” settlers.

“Norway believes that Israeli settlement activity on occupied lands is illegal under international law and hinders the peace process, and strongly believes in a two-state solution as the only lasting solution,” said Hasini Ransala Liyanage, a doctoral researcher at the University. from the political science department in Oslo.

He described Norway as a “prominent mediator of multiple conflicts in the world” that “has always focused on peaceful solutions.”

Norwegian mediation is characterized by a readiness to provide long-term assistance, impartial facilitation of peace talks and close collaboration with conflicting parties, he added.

Oslo’s recognition of a Palestinian state also underscores its support for the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for recognition of Israel’s right to exist and normalization of ties in exchange for its withdrawal from lands captured since 1967 and a Palestinian state. with East Jerusalem as its capital.

“To me, it seems that the announcement is designed to draw attention to this initiative and contribute to the diplomatic push to increase European support for the Arab peace plan,” Sverke Runde Saxegaard, a doctoral researcher at the University of Oslo, told Al Jazeera.

“The government has been emphasizing throughout the day that this is in no way a signal of support for Hamas but rather a signal of support for the forces and actors seeking a non-violent solution to the conflict within both Israel and Palestine. To offer a ray of hope in a dark time, so to speak,” he added.

Israel’s latest and deadliest war against Gaza has killed nearly 36,000 people, most of them women and children. Their campaign began after Hamas, the group that rules the Gaza Strip, launched an unprecedented incursion into southern Israel during which 1,139 people were killed and dozens captured.

“Strong diplomatic measure”

Oslo’s recognition of a Palestinian state may also bode well for Norway’s image and reputation in the Global South.

Liyanage said Oslo’s “strong diplomatic move” signals support for the people of the Middle East and the Muslim world, as well as citizens of nations in the Global South suffering from violence and protracted conflict.

Norway “will present itself as a State that acts against war crimes (and) violations of international humanitarian law and a State that recognizes the legitimate right of another State to defend its citizens and its borders.”

Norwegian politicians have also recognized the risks of applying international law inconsistently and the message that sends to non-Western audiences.

“Doing and saying popular things rarely damages a country’s reputation. And while I don’t see this being the main motivation here, the foreign minister has long expressed that Norway and the West cannot afford to be seen as hypocrites,” Saxegaard said. “If the West wants the world to be outraged by Russia in Ukraine, it should be outraged by Israel in Gaza.”

Noting how Arab governments welcomed Norway’s recent move, Hugh Lovatt, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the move “goes a small way to countering Global South perceptions of double standards.” Europeans and blind support for Israel.”

‘Definitive demise of the Oslo peace process’

It seems that Oslo has realized that the time has come to address the Israeli-Palestinian issue in new ways and abandon failed approaches of previous decades.

Jorgen Jensehaugen, a senior researcher at the Oslo Peace Research Institute, said the prime minister has hinted that he believes that since there is no peace process, waiting for it to begin while the war continues “is no longer an option.” viable alternative.”

Lovatt added: “In my opinion, this move by Norway also symbolizes the final demise of the Oslo peace process and the urgent need to develop a new post-Oslo peace strategy that should include concrete measures to challenge the Israeli occupation and support the Palestinian rights.

“The hope is that strong support for Palestinian self-determination can demonstrate to the Palestinian public that diplomacy can deliver results and provide a credible alternative to armed violence.”

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