Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Norway Speaks Out Against Israel Boycott

Despite past enmity towards Israel, the country has recently adopted more balanced policies

By: Graham Sigurdson

Published: January 21st, 2014 in News » World

Despite previously being viewed as one of the more hostile administrations when it came to relations with Israel, Norway now appears to be working toward the establishing of further ties and mutual cooperation between the countries.

The country’s conservative-progressive government, which came into power towards the end of 2013 , noted in its election platform that it would change its policy regarding the Middle East, and begin to implement more balanced courses of action.

The country’s previous left leaning administration was known for its more pro-Arab stance.

Normway’s Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader, Erna Solberg, is expected to make her first visit to Israel later in 2014, being the first Norwegian Prime Minister to visit in over a decade. Notably, Solberg was one of the first world leader’s to use condolences following former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s death.

Speaking on the changes, Israeli’s ambassador to Oslo, Naim Araidi, noted that: “There are indications of a significant improvement in ties between the two countries. The public and the authorities are beginning to understand that the relations with Israeli do not necessarily have to be defined by the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the two nations can develop normal ties in every field regardless.”

Following the new government’s establishment, the Israeli embassy held meetings to promote business interactions between Norway’s oil sector and Israel’s natural gas industry. The country’s acting finance minister, who is the leader of the Progressive Party, expressed public support of a tighter cooperation.

Norwegian Culture Minister Thorhild Widvey also addressed he matter of Israeli boycotts: “We don’t see the boycott as an effective tool to promote positive change. The Norwegian government is interested in tighter cultural relations between the two countires. I am certain that a deeper mutual understanding is a prerequisite for achieving progress on political matters.”

Last week, Widvey opened a Norwegian television producers conference, with the success of Israel’s television industry in exporting drama being a major topic. “I am impressed by the achievements of the Israeli television and film industry, development of television series that were a national and international success, series that were exported and highly praised around the world – like ‘In Treatment’ and ‘Homeland’,” said Widvey.

He added that “I believe that the success of Israeli productions could inspire the Norwegian industry. It shows that even a relatively small country can achieve great accomplishments. The key to success is a good story and quality directing.”

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