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Petersen will only meet Sharon, not Arafat

The Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen will breach common Norwegian practice when he meets with Airel Sharon in Israel, but not with someone from the Palestinian side of the conflict.

Petersen leaves for Israel after a gala dinner for the Polish president at the castle Tuesday evening. Petersen will meet with Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom while in Israel.

Breach Norwegian practice

When Norwegian ministers travels to Israel to meet Israeli politicians, it has been common practice to also meet with the Palestinian side. This is the practice that Petersen will be breaching.

“It has been impossible to schedule meetings with Palestinian leaders now because Israel is refusing to meet with politicians who also are meeting with the Palestinians,” said Karsten Klepsvik, information officer at the Foreign Affairs department to TV 2 Nettavisen

According to Klepsvik, Petersen is meeting Palestinian leaders sometime in the middle of October, but because of the Israeli strict rules it was impossible to meet right now.

“This is what everyone has to do it with the new Israeli rules,” Klepsvik said.

Petersen has this week made it very clear to Israel that he dislikes Israel’s decision to “in principle” remove the Palestinian president Yasser Arafat, either by deportation or by murder.

“President Arafat is elected by the Palestinian people, and he can not be removed because of a decision made by the Israeli government,” Petersen said.

Last week the Department of Foreign Affairs invited Israel’s ambassador Liora Herzel to the department so that he could get a crystal clear definition of Norway’s view of the new Israeli rules. Petersen will probably discuss the issue when he meets Shalom and Sharon on Wednesday.

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