Connect with us

World

Hoping to pave pathway to peace, Norway to recognise Palestinian statehood

Published

on

Hoping to pave pathway to peace, Norway to recognise Palestinian statehood

Norway, alongside Ireland and Spain, recently announced its decision to formally recognise Palestinian statehood based on the pre-1967 borders, starting from Tuesday.

Predictably, as the Palestinian Authority and Hamas welcomed this development, the Israeli government lashed out by quickly withdrawing its ambassadors from Oslo, Dublin and Madrid and summoning the Norwegian, Irish and Spanish representatives in Tel Aviv.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store explained that Norway’s decision was “in support of moderate forces that are on a retreating front in a protracted and cruel conflict”.

He said the move is an investment in the “only solution” that can bring lasting peace in the Middle East – “two states living side by side in peace and security”.

Analysts were not surprised by Norway’s move, which comes 30 years after it hosted the Oslo Accords, the early 1990s peace agreements that ultimately failed.

Advertisement

“The Norwegian population has over a long time been moving towards a more pro-Palestinian view. The political establishment has been more hesitant, not least because of its close ties to the US,” Bjorn Olav Utvik, a professor of Middle East studies at the University of Oslo, told Al Jazeera. “Since the outbreak of the current conflict, popular opinion has swung even further towards the Palestinian cause.”

He cast the recognition as “an important symbolic move” and one that is easier to make than, for instance, “cutting off all investments linked to Israel by the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund”.

With European countries deeply divided by the Israeli war on Gaza, Norway has moved closer to those who vocally support Palestinian rights to self-determination and basic dignity.

“We can’t wait any longer,” Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s foreign minister, recently told Al Jazeera. “The only viable long-term settlement which can bring peace to the Palestinian people and the Israeli people is a two-state solution. These two states, of course, must have logical territories. A lot will have to change.”

What were the Oslo accords? (Al Jazeera)

Looking back, Oslo’s position on the Israel-Palestine conflict has been steady.

Advertisement

Norwegian officials have maintained high levels of support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and have been quick to demand a ceasefire after the latest conflict erupted.

Previously, Norway has condemned the Israeli occupation before the International Court of Justice. It does not export weapons to Israel and has sanctioned some “extremist” settlers.

“Norway believes that Israeli settlement activity on occupied land is illegal under international law and hinders the peace process and is in firm belief of a two-state solution as the only durable solution,” said Hasini Ransala Liyanage, a doctoral research fellow at the University of Oslo’s political science department.

She described Norway as a “prominent mediator of multiple conflicts in the world” that has “always focused on peaceful solutions”.

Norwegian mediation is characterised by a willingness to provide long-term assistance, impartial facilitation of peace talks and close corporation with parties in conflict, she added.

Advertisement

Oslo’s recognition of a Palestinian state also underlines its support for the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for recognition of Israel’s right to exist and normalisation of ties in exchange for its withdrawal from lands captured since 1967 and a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

“To me, it seems the announcement is designed to create attention for this initiative and contribute to diplomatic momentum to increase European support for the Arab peace plan,” Sverke Runde Saxegaard, a doctoral researcher at the University of Oslo, told Al Jazeera.

“The government has been emphasising throughout the day that this is not in any way a sign of support for Hamas but a sign of support for forces and actors that seek a nonviolent solution to the conflict within both Israel and Palestine. To provide a glimmer of hope in a dark time, so to speak,” he added.

Israel’s latest and deadliest war on Gaza has killed almost 36,000 people, most of them women and children. Its campaign began after Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, launched an unprecedented incursion into southern Israel during which 1,139 people were killed and dozens captured.

‘Strong diplomatic move’

Oslo’s recognition of a Palestinian state may also bode well for Norway’s image and reputation in the Global South.

Advertisement

Liyanage said Oslo’s “strong diplomatic move” signals support for people in the Middle East and Muslim world as well as citizens of Global South nations who suffer from violence and protracted conflicts.

Norway will “stand as a state that acts against war crimes [and] violations of international humanitarian law and a state that recognises another state’s legitimate right to defend its citizens and borders”.

Norwegian politicians have also acknowledged the risks of applying international law inconsistently and the message that sends to non-Western audiences.

“Doing and saying popular things rarely hurt a country’s standing. And although I do not see this as the primary motivation here, the minister of foreign affairs has long been vocal about how Norway and the West cannot afford to be seen as hypocritical,” Saxegaard said. “If the West wants the world to be outraged about Russia in Ukraine, it needs to be outraged about Israel in Gaza.”

Noting how Arab governments welcomed Norway’s recent move, Hugh Lovatt, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the move “goes some small way to counter Global South perceptions of European double standards and blind support for Israel”.

Advertisement

‘Final demise of the Oslo peace process’

It seems as though Oslo has realised that the time has come to approach the Israel-Palestine issue in new ways and abandon failed approaches from previous decades.

Jorgen Jensehaugen, a senior researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo, said the prime minister has implied that he believes that since there is no peace process, waiting for one to start as the war rages on “is no longer a viable alternative”.

Lovatt added: “This move by Norway in my opinion also symbolises the final demise of the Oslo peace process and the urgent need to elaborate a new post-Oslo peacemaking strategy which should involve concrete steps to challenge Israeli occupation and support Palestinian rights.

“The hope is that a strong endorsement of Palestinian self-determination can demonstrate to the Palestinian public that diplomacy can deliver results and provide a credible alternative to armed violence.”

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

World

Video: Biden and Zelensky Deliver Remarks at G7 Summit

Published

on

Video: Biden and Zelensky Deliver Remarks at G7 Summit

new video loaded: Biden and Zelensky Deliver Remarks at G7 Summit

transcript

transcript

Biden and Zelensky Deliver Remarks at G7 Summit

G7 leaders agreed on a plan to give Ukraine a $50 billion loan to help it buy weapons and begin to rebuild.

“President Zelensky and I have just now signed that agreement between the United States and Ukraine. Our goal is to strengthen Ukraine’s credible defense and deterrence capabilities for the long term. A lasting peace for Ukraine must be underwritten by Ukraine’s own ability to defend itself now, and to deter future aggression any time in the future. The United States is going to help ensure that Ukraine can do both, not by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine, but by providing weapons and ammunition, expanding intelligence sharing, continuing to train brave Ukrainian troops at bases in Europe and the United States.” “Today is a truly historic day, and we have signed the strongest agreement between Ukraine and the U.S. since our independence. And this is an agreement on security, and thus, on the protection of human life. This is an agreement on cooperation, and thus, on how our nations will become stronger. This is an agreement on steps to guarantee sustainable peace, and therefore it benefits everyone in the world because the Russian war against Ukraine is a real, real global threat.”

Advertisement

Recent episodes in Ukraine Crisis

Continue Reading

World

1,000 days have passed since Taliban banned girls from attending school past 6th grade: UNICEF

Published

on

1,000 days have passed since Taliban banned girls from attending school past 6th grade: UNICEF

A thousand days have passed since girls in Afghanistan were banned from attending secondary schools, according to the U.N. children’s agency, which said Thursday that “no country can move forward when half its population is left behind.”

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell in a statement urged Taliban authorities to allow all children to resume learning immediately, and called on the international community to support Afghan girls, who she said need it more than ever. The agency estimates that more than 1 million girls are affected.

The U.N. has warned that the ban on girls’ education remains the Taliban’s biggest obstacle to gaining recognition as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan.

TALIBAN PUBLICLY FLOGS 63 IN AFGHANISTAN, INCLUDING WOMEN, DRAWING UN CONDEMNATION

The Taliban, who took over in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces in 2021, has said girls continuing their education goes against the group’s strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Advertisement

Despite initially promising a more moderate rule, the Taliban have also barred women from higher education, public spaces like parks and most jobs as part of harsh measures imposed. When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s, they also banned girls’ education.

FILE – Afghan girls attend school in a classroom, in Kabul, March 25, 2023. One thousand days have passed since girls in Afghanistan were banned from attending secondary schools. That’s according to the U.N. children’s agency, which says that “no country can move forward when half its population is left behind.” (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

The Taliban has barred girls from attending classes beyond sixth grade, making it the only country in the world with such restrictions on female education.

In March, the new school year started with girls barred from attending classes beyond the sixth grade. Female journalists were not allowed to attend the opening ceremony.

The Taliban also have been prioritizing Islamic knowledge over basic literacy and numeracy with their shift toward madrassas, or religious schools.

Advertisement

UNICEF’s executive director called the systematic exclusion of girls “not only a blatant violation of their right to education, but also results in dwindling opportunities and deteriorating mental health.”

She said UNICEF works with partners to run community-based education classes for 600,000 children, two-thirds of them girls, and train teachers.

Although Afghan boys have access to education, Human Rights Watch has said the Taliban’s “abusive” educational policies are harming them. In a report published in December, the group said deep harm has been inflicted on boys’ education as qualified teachers — including women — left, including an increase in corporal punishment.

Also on Thursday, a spokesperson for the U.N. Human Rights Office said the Taliban have told female civil servants barred from working that their salaries would be cut to the lowest level regardless of their experience or qualifications.

The latest “discriminatory and profoundly arbitrary decision” further deepened the erosion of human rights in Afghanistan, said Liz Throssell.

Advertisement

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, called on authorities to rescind all laws, instructions, edicts and other measures that discriminated against women and girls, in clear violation of the country’s human rights obligations, Throssell added.

Nobody from the Taliban was immediately available for comment.

Continue Reading

World

NATO agrees on long-term support plan for Ukraine

Published

on

NATO agrees on long-term support plan for Ukraine

Ministers gathered over two days at NATO headquarters in Brussels for final high-level talks before an upcoming summit hosted by US President Joe Biden in Washington in July.

ADVERTISEMENT

NATO defence ministers have ended talks in Brussels, during which they agreed on a plan to provide long-term security assistance and military training to Ukraine.

It comes after Hungary promised not to veto the scheme as long as it’s not forced to take part.

Ukraine’s Western allies are trying to bolster their military support as Russian troops launch attacks along the more than 1,000-kilometre front line, taking advantage of a lengthy delay in US military aid. European Union money was also held up by political infighting.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who chaired the meeting, said that Ukraine’s beleaguered armed forces need longer-term predictability about the kinds of weapons, ammunition and funds they can expect to receive.

Stoltenberg declared that the plan is for NATO to continue to provide support to Ukraine: “Since Russia’s full scale invasion, allies have provided around €40 billion worth of military support each year. I have proposed that we sustain this level of support as a minimum for as long as it takes.”

Advertisement

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Ukraine’s Western backers have routinely met as part of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, run by the Pentagon, to drum up weapons and ammunition for Kyiv. A fresh meeting was held at NATO headquarters on Thursday.

While those meetings have resulted in significant battlefield support, they have been of an ad-hoc and unpredictable nature. Stoltenberg has spearheaded an effort to have NATO take up some of the slack.

The idea is for the 32-nation military alliance to coordinate the security assistance and training process, partly by using NATO’s command structure and drawing on funds from its common budget.

Stoltenberg said he hopes Biden and his counterparts will agree in Washington to maintain the funding level for military support they have provided Ukraine since Russia launched its full-fledged invasion in February 2022.

He estimates this at around €40 billion of equipment each year.

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending