Foreign Minister Støre: Norway might be willing to recognize an independent Palestinian state in September 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Some news from NRK yesterday, as the Norwegian Foreign Minister was just in the area and fielded some questions on whether Norway intends to recognize an independent Palestinian state in September or not. Norway's a particularly interesting case to watch considering that it is not a part of the EU, but nor does it have a strict policy of neutrality in international affairs.
Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said on Wednesday while in Ramallah in the West Bank that Norway could recognize a Palestinian state, saying that "We are working to develop the Palestinian economy so that they can achieve the goal of independence." Palestinians are seeking to proclaim an independent state in September, according to a two-year plan from Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Støre said that Norway would support this work.

There are only eight months until the target, and Støre believes that time is running out. "If there is no progress on the political track by August or September, I think the climate will change." He also said that Norway would be one of the first countries in Europe to recognize a Palestinian state in the fall, if it is coordinated internationally.

Donors to the Palestinian territories will reassess the situation in September, says NRK's Middle East correspondent Sidsel Wold, noting that donor countries would reassess the situation in September: "Norway is leading the donor group for Palestine, which has been very important in the past half year because of the September 2011 deadline...if the peace process just gets stuck and nothing happens, you have to figure out whether to liquidate a postion of the financial support, or what to do."

Minister Støre says that the EU represents a large number of countries and that they are divided over the issue, while the US is somewhat less involved because of preparations for the next presidential election. This makes Norway a somewhat more important player, he said.

Another article featuring a the same quotes from Støre also has the following:

The time is not ripe for a Palestinian state, believes Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, saying that the Palestinian government lacks legitimacy: "This is an administration that has delayed elections three times, that lost the last election, that is not holding elections and is not acting to hold them. There is no guarantee that Hamas would win the next time an election is held."

Hamas won the election in the Palestinian territories in 2006, but never took control over the Fatah-controlled security forces. That eventually led to an armed conflict in the Gaza Strip, and security forces were eventually expelled from it.
While we're on the subject, don't forget this post that compares the size of the Gaza Strip to other parts of the world. Two of the maps there comparing it to New York and Vancouver serve as good examples:

View Gaza Strip vs. US and other locations in a larger map

View Gaza Strip vs. US and other locations in a larger map

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