Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin met in Jerusalem with Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.
Norway's interest in the political process stems from the fact that it is the leading donor state to the Palestinian Authority, a fact especially emphasized in light of the forthcoming meeting of the donor nations in September. The Norwegian FM agreed with DFM Elkin that the fact that a large percentage of the PA budget goes towards the funding of salaries of Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails is problematical. DFM Elkin said that the the educational message is troublesome, especially in the eyes of the young generation that understands that the most worthwhile job in the Palestinian Authority is that of terrorist. In comparison, the salary of an employee in the security service is approximately one quarter of that of a terrorist residing in an Israeli prison.
Regarding the negotiations, DFM Elkin noted the fears of the Israeli public, which is skeptical about the PA's ability to uphold the agreements. "If in the Oslo agreement it was explicitly stated that the Palestinian Authority would take no unilateral actions to establish an independent state, and twenty years later they go to the UN asking for recognition of a Palestinian state, who will guarantee that they will abide by the conditions of a new agreement? After all, the international community, including Norway, guaranteed the terms of the Oslo Agreement, and today we see they are allowed to continue to take unilateral steps that only further us from a peace agreement. In this regard, the international community must insist that during current negotiations the PA will not take any additional unilateral steps."
The issue of the civil war in Syria was also discussed in the meeting. The Norwegian FM was briefed on this issue, and the fact that Israel must be prepared for every scenario was emphasized; Syria is aware that we will respond to every attack.
An additional issue discussed was the UN Human Rights Council. Israel suspended its activities in the UNHRC because of the Council's systematic discrimination against Israel. Israel is currently examining its position regarding cooperation with the UNHRC, subject to a drastic change in the Council's approach to Israel, and DFM Elkin thanked the Norwegian FM for his positive attitude regarding this issue.
The two leaders also discussed the bilateral relations between Israel and Norway, as well as the need to increase cooperation between the two countries in the many fields where Israel can contribute to Norway and vice versa, including increased Norwegian investment in Israel, cooperation in the energy field, strengthening of the political dialogue and the research and development agreement. A dialogue on these topics will be held by a special delegation by the end of the year.
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