Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Israel snubs Norwegian envoy

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Mar. 20, 2007 by Associated Press ...

The Foreign Ministry canceled a planned Tuesday meeting with a top Norwegian government official in a sign of displeasure the day after he met with Palestinian Authority government leaders from Hamas, Norwegian and Israeli officials said.

Norway's deputy foreign minister, Raymond Johansen met Palestinian Auhtority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas and other government officials on Monday, becoming the first high-ranking Western official to visit Hamas leaders. His spokeswoman, Gry Larsen, said a meeting scheduled at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem for Tuesday had been called off, but she did not give further details.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev ... said ..."There was a Cabinet ruling last year. ...International dignitaries who meet with Hamas officials will not receive meetings with Israeli officials..." ...

The international community imposed a diplomatic and economic boycott on the Hamas government to pressure it to
  • explicitly recognize Israel,
  • renounce the use of violence and
  • endorse previous peace agreements between the Palestinians and Israel.

The Cabinet on Sunday declared it would not deal with any member of the new Palestinian government and called on the international community "to maintain the policy it has taken over the past year, of isolating the Palestinian [Authority] government until it recognizes the three principles of the Quartet."

The Quartet is still appraising the new Haniyeh government and has yet to say whether it intends to change its position.

Norway, which is a member of the UN but not of the EU, recognized the new government the day it was sworn in, raising Israeli hackles. "It is surely a mistake to give legitimacy and recognition to an unreformed extremist (group) and it cannot serve the purposes of peace," Regev said after Johansen met Haniyeh on Monday.

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