Expert claims Norway gave in to Israeli pressure

The Norwegian negotiators during the Oslo process were not bridge builders, but let themselves and Norway be used by Israel, claims researcher Hilde Henriksen Waage (left).

26.04.04 12:35

Henriksen Waage issued the report «Peace Making Is a Risky Business» today where Norway’s role in the Oslo process is described. The report was commissioned by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In the report, Henriksen Waage put the myth of Norway as the neutral party to rest. In stead, she claims that the three star negotiators Johan Jørgen Holst, Terje Rød-Larsen and Mona Juul willingly let themselves be used by Israel.

«They were consumed by the thought of contributing to peace in the Middle East, but the room for manoeuvring was very limited,» Henriksen Waage said to TV 2 Nettavisen.«This is what they need to understand.»

She stressed that the trio was not Israeli friendly to begin with, but the peace process forced Norway to back down for the strongest party, or the secret channel would collapse.

At one point, Norway was even willing to risk its good relation to the US in order to get an agreement. Even the pro-American Foreign Minister Johan Jørgen Holst accepted Israel’s demands of not informing Washington when Israel lifted the talks in Oslo up on a high political level.

In addition, Israel could use the fact that Norway had no means of pressing the countries in the negotiation process. The Norwegian negotiators were allegedly much easier to handle than George Bush Sr. and Secretary of State James Baker who could apply financial pressure on Israel.

«The Norwegian negotiators were willing to be used,» Henriksen Waage stated. «They came when Israel asked them to come, they gave the Palestinians what the Israelis asked them to handover, and they knew very well that this was the only way to get an agreement signed.»

Henriksen Waage claims that little Norway should not have any illusions of its own importance as neutral negotiator.

«The Oslo process indicates that if a little country like Norway has a role to play in peace processes where the power division is so uneven as it is in the Middle East, Norway is forced to bend for the strongest party,» Henriksen Waage concluded.

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