Parliamentary group Friends of Israel in a pickle


Dagen 2011 12 21


It is hardly a peaceful Yuletude putting its stamp on “Friends of Israel” in the Storting. Time to come to an agreement is present, however, before the Christmas parcels are opened.

The Progressives recently took over the leadership of the pro-Israeli parliamentarian group. For a long time, the Christian People’s Party has had a tradition of possessing this office. However, for this session of parliament, it was decided to split the leadership period in two parts, due to pressure by the Progressives. Therefore, Hans Olav Syversen of the CPP was relieved by Jørund Rytman of the Progressives.

In his first interview with “Dagen”, Rytman gave his reasons for this office being so important. The main reason was the Progressives being larger than the CPP. However. Rytman added the CPP were “somewhat wishy washy on some issues”.

This was rather hard to swallow for the usually pacific Hans Olav Syversen.

In yesterday’s Dagen, he stated such statements may “spell death for the friends of Israel”. No less.

We hold the opinion that the CPP must be able to listen to critical voices over their policies on Israel. This newspaper has repeatedly done this.

Jørund Rytman is obviously correct in stating the uncertainty certain CPP delegates creates surrounding the party’s commitment to Israel at times.

One example may be the by now resigned deputy leader Inger Lise Hansen, who demanded a new approach to the CPP’s policy on the Middle East.

Nor have we forgotten former leader of the CPP, Dagfinn Høybråten, refusing to attend in the defense of Israel during the demonstrations in January of 2009.

By then, Siv Jensen was the only party leader to defend the Jewish state.

While stones and  abuse were thrown at friends of Israel, and the Storting wrapped in a blanket of tear gas.

At times, standing up for Israel has a cost. Siv Jensen was willing to take that cost, Dagfinn Høybråten was not.

So criticims is something one must tolerate.

Of course, it might be matter of opinion whether the office of leader of the Friends of Israel is to be a platform from where to launch attacks on other parties in the group.

Hans Olav Syversen may have a point.

In any  event, hopefully Syversen, Rytman and other friends of Israel at the Storting may leave disagreements behind them. We are not served with friends of Israel being known as the” unfriendlies over Israel”. This is because this group is still very much in need at the Storting. The Friends of Israel has a proud tradition to uphold in our national assembly.

At times, a majority of the Storting has been members. In jest, the then PM Trygve Bratteli told the then Israeli ambassador he had a broader parlamentarian basis than the sitting government.

This is no more. Never the less, our impression has been a good deal of positive efforts have been done by the Friendsof Israel in later years, we note Syversen telling us on yesterday that a Labor member was part of the group- which the party’s own giant, Haakon Lie, founded.

Our wish is this: get on friendly terms again! It’s Christmas!