Updated May 22nd, 2024 at 17:39 IST

Why is Norway's Recognition of Palestine Significant?

Unlike several other countries, Norway also continues to fund UNRWA, the main U.N. agency aiding Palestinian refugees.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre | Image:AP
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On Wednesday, Norway announced its decision to officially recognise Palestine as a state, a move carrying significant weight due to Norway's role in the 1993 Oslo Accords. These landmark agreements, which Norway hosted, were the framework for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, although they ultimately failed to resolve the conflict.

Despite its long-standing relationship with Israel, Norway has recently taken a critical stance against Israel's actions in Gaza. Following Israel's military offensive in response to Hamas-led attacks on October 7, Norway's foreign minister condemned Israel's conduct, stating in March, “Israel’s use of military force is having a disproportionately severe impact on the civilian population and is not in line with international humanitarian law.” Norway has also called for a cease-fire.

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Unlike many countries, Norway continues to fund UNRWA

Unlike several other countries, Norway continued to fund UNRWA, the main U.N. agency aiding Palestinian refugees, even after Israel accused some of the agency's employees of involvement in the October 7 attacks. Additionally, in February, Norway testified at the International Court of Justice, citing Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem as major obstacles to peace.

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Here is what you need to know

The Oslo Accords, facilitated by Norway, marked a historic moment of mutual recognition between Israel and the Palestinian leadership. They allowed the Palestinian Authority to return from exile and establish limited self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, subsequent efforts to secure a permanent peace treaty collapsed in 2000, leading to renewed conflict.

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Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre emphasized the importance of recognizing Palestine to support moderate forces in the conflict. “A recognition of Palestine is support to moderate forces that are on the defensive, in a long and gruesome conflict,” Støre said. He described the recognition as “an investment in the only solution that can give lasting peace in the Middle East” and urged other nations to follow Norway's lead to revive the process toward a two-state solution.

Norway’s decision underscores its continued commitment to seeking a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and highlights the significant historical role it played in the Oslo Accords. It is however unclear if its approach will work. 

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Published May 22nd, 2024 at 17:39 IST