Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said on Monday Oslo was exploring ways to revive a diplomatic channel between Israel and the Palestinians to find a political solution to the decades-long conflict.
Norway served as a facilitator in the 1992-1993 talks between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) that led to the Oslo Accords in 1993. Those talks were conducted in complete secrecy.
Since then, it has remained involved as chair of the donor group coordinating international assistance to the Palestinian territories, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC).There is now interest in trying to revive the AHLC as a possible channel for diplomacy, Barth Eide said, as Israel stepped up strikes on Gaza in its war against the terrorist organization Hamas that broke out last month.
“We hear now from very many sides – the American, the European and the Arab (sides), and from many among the parties (in the conflict), who want to see whether it can be relevant as a channel again,” Espen Barth Eide told public broadcaster NRK.
“This war has reminded everyone that there is no other lasting solution to this than having a two-state solution, which one had hoped to see after the Oslo Accords 30 years ago.”
Politics could be ‘back on track’
Barth Eide said it was possible that out of this “terrible dramatic situation” happening in Gaza today, “we could see a political process back on track,” on the condition that the war in Gaza does not spread to other countries in the Middle East.
“That is what we hope for, and if those involved want it, Norway will naturally be ready to support this with what we can,” he said.
Highlighting Norway’s efforts, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere talked on Saturday with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi about Gaza, the PM’s office said in a statement on Sunday, including “how a two-state solution must be discussed again and indicating Norway’s engagement on this over many years.”
“We must already think now about what comes after. Diplomatic initiatives and solutions are necessary,” Stoere said in the statement.
The Nordic country, which is not part of the European Union and is a close U.S. ally, is involved in several peace processes, including in Colombia and Venezuela.