Our red-green coalition government believes it is important and righteous to hold Israel to a higher standard than her neighbors. The opposition has a different take on things.
From Norge IDAG, by journalist Tor Bjørn Nordgaard, “New policy on Gaza with a new government“:
Representatives of the CPP, the Conservatives and the Progressives issue warning over changes in Norwegian policies concerning Israel if their parties are part of a new government after the 2013 elections.
“A government by the Progressives will have as its basic view that Israel is surrounded by enemies and people intending them harm, and Israel therefore is fighting for its existence”, Christian Tybring Gjedde of the Progressives said.
Thus, he set the tone of the debate from the start, as members of the Storting of the three largest opposition parties met at the general assembly of Norge IDAG at Bildøy. He drew the lines from the Middle East to the challenges Norway and Europe is facing because of Islam.
“The ME conflict is not just a political, but also a religious issue. It symbolizes all the potential conflicts smoldering around Europe, because Israel, having a democratic way of rule, represents values not wanted by an increasing share of the world’s population”.
He pointed out to Israel representing values like pluralism, tolerance, human values, equal rights, personal liberties, secular justice and the struggle for religious freedom.
“Some five or six million people on a stamp sized piece of land are not a threat to anyone. However, the sheer existence of the country is provoking because it proves the possibility in this region of something else than represented by the neighboring countries”, Tybring Gjedde stated.
Conservatives promises adjustments
Svein Harberg of the Conservatives was also present, pointing out he is not working with ME questions on a daily basis, being part of the Committee of Churches, Education and Research at the Storting. Yet, he was clear on changes in Norwegian policies in the ME with his party in government.
“The Conservatives clearly see, and is preoccupied with Israel and her needs and wishes over being recognized an independent state. This is at the foundation of our work with this. There is a need of clarification over this, for the people of Israel to see a bright future and being able to safely live in the region”, he said.
However, what he promises is adjustment, and not a total change of today’s policies on the Middle East policies.
“I can confirms continuing focus and commitment, and dialogue with the parties having a different approach, and having a different angle”, Harberg said.
CPP leader want new dialogue
Knut Arild Hareide, the leader of the CPP has the opinion today’s government has lost the possibility to influence the conflict in the ME towards a lasting peace accord.
“Among the main differences between today’s government and the Bondevik government is the Bondevik government having a good dialogue with both parties in the ME conflict. As for myself, I had a meeting with the Junior Minister of Liberman, and his descriptions of Norway are as a biased part in the conflict. By then, the possibility of having influence on a lasting peace accord is lost.
He criticized FM Støre over his Hamas dialogue, revealed by TV2 earlier this year.
“They revealed a close dialogue between the political leadership of the MFA and the political leadership of Hamas, whom in their charter states the Jews were behind WW1, their wish to exterminate the state of Israel and Jews also being behind WW2, profiting immensely by it. Actually, if somebody did not profit by WW2, it was the Jews”.
Hareide also pointed to the CPP proposal to enact a plan against anti-Semitism in Norway, referring to the report on the conditions in the schools of Oslo published in last week clearly showing the need for this.
After being questioned by the leader of the debate, Bjarne Ystebø, the oncoming leader said this question had to be clarified earlier and far clearer than at the last elections for Storting.
“We have learned by the events of 2009. We had a clear discussion on government, alternatives were Jens (Stoltenberg) or (Siv) Jensen, and the CPP got stuck in the middle”.
He said the CPP would not enter this discussion until after this fall’s local elections, but that waiting for the annual convention in the year of election would be too late; seeing as what happened the last time, estimating the spring of 2012 will be the most likely time to discuss cooperation over a new government.
Can you contribute to the Progressives being part of government? Ystebø asked.
“This is a matter we shall discuss. We agree with the Progressives over some matters concerning values; however, some other issues are a problem to us”, Hareide replied; mentioning gene- and biotechnology and the question of assisted suicides being difficult issues.
“We must rather start with what we agree upon, the direction of Norway, our Christian cultural heritage, progressing the country, and having pride in our country”, Christian Tybring Gjedde replied.
Immigration difficult issue
He had the opinion immigration was the issue on which the challenge of cooperation was most difficult.
“You are yourselves destroying the issues you are raising, because you accept a naïve policy on immigration. With today’s policies on immigration Oslo will have a Muslim majority in 20-30 years. By then, the Christian cultural heritage is indefensible. Therefore, this policy is ethically not viable. The values of this country is based on Christianity, to preserve them, policies on immigration must be changed before it is too late”, Tybring Gjedde stated.
“The CPP is not behind a naïve policy on immigration, but a just policy”, said Hareide, pointing out the CPP are behind what de facto is a stop to immigration; but the institute of asylum must be protected.
Harberg voiced the Conservative standpoint of wide ranging right wing cooperation, having all four parties in government.
“My simple philosophy is that of if the Center Party and the Socialists can cooperate with the Labor party in the middle; then we should really have the opportunity to cooperate. We are in agreement over far more than the existing government”, Harberg said.
No and yes to Palestine
The leader of the debate asked whether Jonas Gahr Støre should vote yes or no to a Palestinian state this year, whether there is a peace accord or not. While Hareide and Tybring Gjedde said clearly “No”, Harberg was uncertain on this issue.
“This is a very large and difficult challenge. We have discussed this; and not concluded on what advice we shall give; however, for us it is of importance Norway is not alone.
“USA has stated they will veto this”, Ystebø informed.
“Yes, and USA is our central ally which we must relate to”, Harberg replied.
Harberg also had to explain himself over party colleague Peter Gitmark’s recent initiative to ban deductible gifts to the pro-Israeli Karmel institute because they supports settlements in the West Bank.
“Peter is a clear and important politician, and was challenged on this issue, expressing him selves somewhat acutely”, Harberg said, explaining the Conservatives have as principle it is wrong to reward those donating to organizations and causes not relating to the human rights.
“The standpoint of the Conservatives is a difficult one from an ideological view. We must have a voluntary community correcting authorities in rule”, Hareide said, comparing the decision with the governments threats to deny the Salvation Army funding over their views on gays.
“Environmentalists have often broke the law, yet none one wants to relieve them of public support over this”, he continued.
Bjarte Ystebø also used this opportunity to speak of the public funding of weeklies. Today, the Cultural Council manages this under subjective criteria, which has led to NorgeIDAG being denied funding for the second year in a row, only receiving fractions of what other newspapers have received, while newspapers like Ny Tid and Morgenbladet had their funding increased. He asked Hareide whether objective criteria would be applied if a new government is composed.
“I will clearly state a “yes” to this. With today’s support, the CPP will hardly have all ministries, but given the opportunity, this is something we will do”, the CPP leader replied.