lifted from vg.no
ISRAEL SNUBS BARTH EIDE VISIT
Verdens Gang 2013 02 07, Erlend Skevik
Israel has refused a request by FM Espen Barth Eide over a meeting with Israeli leaders ahead of the meeting of the International Donor Country Committee in March.
Sources within the Israeli government apparatus have informed VG of this.
As the leader of the IDCC for the Palestinians, Barth Eide is stated to be occupied with having a meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in what is described as a meeting decisive for the destiny of the Palestinian economy in March.
“It is an established practice with the Norwegians of the FM visiting Israel and Palestine ahead of the IDCC meetings. The Israelis have always displayed goodwill ahead of such meetings connected to this. This does not prevent it from being many bits that have to fall in place connected to these meetings”, says Norway’s Ambassador to Israel, Svein Sevje.
According to the Embassy, the refusal is reasoned on talks over the establishment of a new Israeli government after the January elections still being ongoing.
“It is natural for the Norwegian FM to meet his counterpart during such visits. At present, Israel has no government; the establishing of a new government may take some time. Parts of the administration finds a visit under such circumstances very trying”, Sevje says.
In the meanwhile, it is confirmed other political leaders shall see Israel in the coming weeks. Recently installed Secretary of State John Kerry and the Sri Lankese FM shall visit Israel within a short time frame. Sevje points to not being acquainted with other visits; and will not speculate over the causes of this different treatment.
A source near the Israeli PM responds to questions concerning other countries visiting Israel ahead of the establishment of a new government; while the Norwegian FM has to wait:
“It has not been decided at which level talks with the Sri Lankese FM will take part. Concerning the Americans; they come and goes as they seems to please (sic)”.
The staff of Barth Eide has for some time attempted to arrange a visit for the Norwegian FM to Israel and Palestine without success.. In December, the planned visit was cancelled after repeated attempts to find space for a visit between Barth Eide and Israeli leaders.
VG is acquainted with what is being an increasing annoyance within the Israeli MFA over what is preceived as Norwegian arrogance towards the Israeli political leadership. The perception among senior officials within the Israeli MFA is that the Norwegians expect the Israelis to adapt to the schedules of the Palestinian leadership.
Yigal Palmor, spokesman of the Israeli MFA, confirms to VG that the then FM Avigdor Liberman went far to arrange a meeting with his Norwegian colleague in December, Never the less, the Norwegian delegation chose to cancel the visit.’
“In spite of the Norwegian delegation changing it schedule three times; Liberman changed his schedule every time to meet with the Norwegian minister, most likely due to problems on the Palestinian side” Palmor says.
According the Norwegian Ambassador, the Israelis have expressed their wish for a visit by the Norwegian FM.
The active Norwegian support for giving Palestine observer status within the UN led to strong reactions in Israel. Spokesmen of the Israeli government stated it would be impossible for Norway to play any political role in the ME after this.
“Norway has put itself in a very bad light, both due to the UN vote and through its misunderstood attempt to have a dialogue with Hamas. It is very difficult to see Norway play a political role in the ME after this”, Yigal Palmor of the Israeli MFA stated to VG after the UN vote.
Sevje does not hide the fact there are contentious issues between Norway and Israel; however denying there is a strained relations between the two countries making it difficult to arrange a meeting between Barth Eide and his Israeli colleague.
“The timing of the visit is being discussed, not whether the Norwegian FM is welcome. He is”, Sevje says.