Norway changes stance on Israel


New government adopts more friendly policy toward Israel

Established a few months ago, the conservative-progressive minority government in Norway has been working towards repairing ties with Israel and enhancing collaboration in a number of fields. The previous left-wing administration had a longstanding record of anti-Israel sentiment and had called for a boycott of Israeli products.

For the first time in over a decade, the Norwegian prime minister is set to make a visit to Israel. The new policy put in place by Erna Solberg, Norway’s Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader, will see improved diplomatic relations between the two countries, Norwegian and Israeli officials said. After the passing of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Solberg was one of the first world leaders to send their condolences.

“There are indications of a significant improvement in the ties between the two countries,” said Israeli Ambassador to Oslo Naim Araidi. “The public and the authorities are beginning to understand that 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 irregardless.”

After the establishment of the new government, the Israeli embassy to Norway launched a meeting between Israeli and Norwegian companies. The two sides discussed opportunities to promote business interactions between the well-developed Norwegian oil sector and Israel’s developing natural gas industry, the Ynet web site reported. Siv Jensen, the current finance minister and leader of Norway’s Progress Party, publicly proclaimed his support for greater cooperation between Israel and Norway in the field of energy.

In spite of numerous calls for boycotting Israel emanating from Norway’s cultural sector, the new Norwegian Culture Minister Thorhild Widvey stated: “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 countries. I am certain that a deeper mutual understanding is a prerequisite for achieving progress on political matters.”

Widvey also advocated for greater collaboration between the two countries, leading a conference last week for Norwegian television producers to discuss the success of the Israeli television industry in exporting drama series, such as Homeland and Hostages.

Ynet reported that nearly 160 Norwegian television producers, both private and state-sponsored, attended lectures by leading Israeli media personalities.

“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 the Norwegian culture minister.

“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.”

February 9, 2015 | Comments »

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