Verdens Gang 2013 01 10
The Progressives are concerned over the security surrounding the Israeli Embassy in Oslo; by now they want to relieve local politicians in Oslo the responsibility over this.
The Oslo Zoning Board has denied an application by the Israeli Embassy over maintaining a security fence designed to protect the Embassy. This issue will now become a political issue within the Municipality of Oslo. If the politicians listen to advice from the department in charge, the fence must be dismantled.
The background over this is the area in which the Embassy is located being designated a “protected area”.
Jørund Rytman, a Progressive Member of Storting, has now asked for FM Espen Barth Eide to commit himself over this issue. In a letter to the Minister, the Progressive member of Storting refers to the duty of Norwegian authorities to safeguard foreign embassies.
“This is not an ordinary zoning issue. It is obvious the Israeli Embassy is a target for terrorists; this dispute shows why such issues must be raised to a national level”, Rytman says.
“It is very obvious some bureaucrats are more occupied with rigid rules concerning cultural protection than security. The clearly haven’t noticed the debate post 22/7, they need to be told of this”, he says.
The Progressive delegate holds the opinion this dispute over the Embassy shows clear similarities to the debate over the closure of Grubbegata in the aftermath of the attack on the government’s headquarters.
“The Grubbegata issue clearly showed the confusion reigning among ministers, bureaucrats and local politicians concerning the handling of such issues. I believe the right thing to do is to raise this up a level, the responsibility lying with a minister”.
Serious threat picture.
In its application, the Embassy point out the security measures surrounding the building have been “a main contribution to the security surrounding the Embassy”, it is also pointed out Norwegian authorities have the responsibility of safeguarding foreign embassies.
“The treat picture has deteriorated seriously in later times; safeguarding the Embassy without these measures will demand unreasonable amounts of resources by the Norwegian authorities”, the letter states.
City Counselor Bård Folke Fredriksen confirms the Embassy’s need of security is among the aspects to be evaluated very closely as the Urban Development Committee will handle this issue sometime this winter.
The Embassy has been working for a long time to find new localities. The MFA has aided the Embassy in this process of relocating; referring to the need of extensive security being a major factor in making this difficult.
Neither the Israeli Embassy nor the MFA wants to comment on this issue while it is the subject of a political process.