As Kafka says, Norway isn’t very keen on being a good host – but then I suppose Norway is very happy with the arrangement for our own embassy in Tel Aviv, situated on top of a fancy shopping center in very upmarket part of town, where security is taken well care of by shopping center and local police. Maybe the Israelis are just that much better in providing security… and hospitality?
NRK Østlandssendingen 2012 02 21,Kjell Vesje/Kjersti Kanestrøm
The Israeli Embassy feels discriminated against in the real estate market in Oslo in connection with searching for a new location.
Israel’s Embassy must move from Parkveien behind the Palace, but hasn’t managed to find alternative premises.
The problems come from negative attitudes to Israel from inter alia Akershus Eiendom, the Embassy feels.
However the chairman of the Board of the said real estate company, Roar Sandnes, does not recognize his company in the criticism.
– We have tried to help them as best we could with what we had to offer of our office buildings. We feel that we have done our job as well as we could and have received answers back that they were not interested in the alternatives we presented to them, says Sandnes.
The Wall Creates Problems
It’s the high security wall surrounding the Embassy that creates problems for Israel. Oslo Municipality demands that the wall be removed within 3 years, but the Embassy cannot live without the security wall and therefore must move.
Israel has evaluated and rejected twenty-some alternative embassy properties the past years.
A third of these came to naught because Israel feels they were treated poorly or discriminated against, according to a formal note (memo) from the Israeli MFA.
Several other alternatives have also been rejected because Israel feels they were too expensive with NOK 50.000 m2 for an embassy property.
But that is the price one has to pay on Oslo’s Westside, says Sandnes.
– I don’t think that is an unreasonable price. We have comparable examples in Bjørvika where DnB (edit. one of Norway’s largest banks) has purchased their headquarters for NOK 60.000 m2 and we have sold properties on Tjuvholmen for higher prices than that, he says.
Have Asked the MFA for Help
Israel has rejected two properties on Drammensveien because they were too close to Iran’s embassy.
Several other properties were also rejected due to poor security. The problems have resulted in Israeli authorities asking the Norwegian MFA for assistance in searching for properties.
However Assist. Dir. Gen. Frode Andersen says that the MFA has already assisted Israel with this matter for several years.
– The MFA has assisted the Israeli Embassy in finding new premises, should they wish to move, since 2009.
What do you think of these allegations concerning that they are discriminated against?
– It is difficult for us to have a qualified opinion on this. The Embassy has asked us in the MFA to assist in finding suitable premises and that is what the case is.
NRK Østlandssendingen 2012 02 21, Andrea Melby
Hans Olav Syversen states Israel’s embassy should stay at present location, refers to objections over “wall” as hyperbole, also pointing to national responsibility over maintaining embassies.
NRK Østlandssendingen 2012 02 21, Kjersti Kanestrøm
Mezyar Keshvari of the Progressives voices his support over Hans Olav Syversen and the Israeli embassy staying in present localities.
“Anyone walking past the Israeli embassy is aware of there being no massive or dominant interference bothering neighbors or others”.
“As a host city and a host country, we have certain duties towards embassies in the country’s capital”.