THE HANDSTAND

JULY 2007

 

Norway, The Only european Nation with a Government for Peace and Mediation?

From: "Kristoffer Larsson" <kristoffer.larsson@sobernet.nu> Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2007 01:27:47 +0200

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6709531.stm



Norway has resumed direct aid to the Palestinian administration, unlike the European Union and US. In a statement on Thursday the Norwegian government said it had disbursed 60m kroner (5m; $10m) to pay Palestinian civil servants' salaries. Norway normalised ties with the new Palestinian unity government in March - so far the only Western state to do so.

The EU and US have shunned the unity government because it is led by Hamas, which they consider a terrorist group. The unity government also contains members of Hamas's main rival, Fatah.

Economic crisis

"We hope our contribution will help to alleviate the current social crisis in the Palestinian Territory, particularly for the many extended families with only one breadwinner," said Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere.

"The critical situation in Gaza has many causes, but it has been exacerbated by social destitution and despair. It is therefore particularly important that the Palestinian authorities receive financial support from the international community," he said.

His deputy Raymond Johansen held talks with Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya in March.

Norway is not an EU member but has played a major role in past Middle East peacemaking.

In the 1990s, it hosted secret meetings between Israeli negotiators and members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which led to the signing of the Oslo accords.