Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Norway does not take a position on whether Israel is an apartheid state

Palestinian workersPhoto: AP Photo / Kevin Frayer, File
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Norway takes Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians very seriously but has not decided whether it falls within the concept of apartheid, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs states.

This week, Amnesty International presented a report concluding that Israel is systematically discriminating against the Palestinians in a way that can be called apartheid.

“The Palestinians are treated as an inferior ethnic group and are systematically deprived of their rights,” the organization’s Secretary-General Agnès Callamard stated.

The Israeli embassy in Oslo has rejected the criticism and accused Amnesty of spreading anti-Semitism.

“Amnesty’s report is double-edged and uses demonization to delegitimize Israel. This is anti-Semitism, and it is a denial of the state of Israel’s right to exist,” it said in a statement.

Rome Statute

The Norwegian-backed Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch have previously concluded that Israel, with its policy towards the Palestinians, both in Israel and the occupied territories, is guilty of apartheid as defined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. 

Norway does not readily support this, according to State Secretary Henrik Thune (AP) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“We take the many violations of human rights and international humanitarian law against Palestinians as the UN, human rights organizations, and others report very seriously. Israel is obliged under international law to safeguard the rights of all population groups in Israel and the Palestinian population in occupied Palestinian territories,” he told NTB.

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs views apartheid as a legal concept with requirements for evidence for subjective reasons. In the Ministry’s view, it is, therefore, first and foremost the task of the judiciary to decide whether such a serious crime against humanity is taking place.

“As a member of the Security Council, Israeli settlement activity, acts of violence against civilians, including children, deprivation of liberty, and the regime in Gaza are high on our agenda,” Thune said.

“We are cooperating with the UN and several Palestinian and Israeli civil society organizations to improve the situation for the people of Palestine. At the same time, it is urgent to arrive at a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict that fulfills the rights of both Palestinians and Israelis and can provide lasting peace,” he said.

Disappointed

Secretary-General John Peder Egenæs of Amnesty Norway is disappointed with the Foreign Ministry’s position.

“We had expected a more active relationship with our report where we believe we document that the Israeli system lives up to the definition of apartheid. But we do not expect the Foreign Ministry to simply take over Amnesty’s legal assessment. What we must be able to expect, however, is that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs makes its own international law assessments of the case and, at the same time, works to ensure that the Security Council and the International Criminal Court (ICC) do the same,” Egenæs told NTB.

“When it comes to serious violations of international humanitarian law, it is not enough to shift the responsibility to a vaguely defined ‘judiciary.’ Then Norway, which has acceded to both the Racism Convention and the Apartheid Convention, must take independent responsibility,” he added.

Source : © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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