Norway has celebrated its National Day in the Gaza Strip for the fourth year, the country's ambassador to Palestine said.
"This is the fourth time we celebrate the 17th of May in Gaza… the last four years in Gaza have been very difficult. We witnessed an unsuccessful attempt at negotiations, a devastating war, and continuous besiegement. We asked ourselves, is it logical for Norway to celebrate its independence, freedom and democracy on its Constitution Day in Palestine, at a time so close to the Palestinian Nakba? Every year we would come to the same answer: yes," Hans Jacob Frydenlund explained.
Frydenlund said the links between Palestine and Norway are stronger than ever, especially given the fact that hundreds of Norwegian citizens are living in Gaza. "We must come together and show support for the Palestinians" expressing his hope that Palestinians will achieve independence as Norway did.
"17 May is not our independence day, it is the Norwegian Constitution Day. We received our constitution in 1814, but we received our independence in 1905. We later achieved complete democracy in 1913 by expanding the voting rights for women," he explained. He noted that it took Norway nearly a century to gain independence, "during this century, we managed to build our institutions and the state of Norway and even managed to separate from Sweden and reach a two-state solution."
"Our independence can be a glimmer of hope for the Palestinians, but there is one major difference: we had what we could call an amicable union with Sweden, but the occupation continues its expansion and siege." He noted that there are no quick solutions for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and that after five years in Palestine he has come to the conclusion that one of the main problems is that many believe a magical solution is needed to fix everything. However, this hope is useless.
Frydenlund said people must look at the long-term solutions, building the future now rather than suspending the future until all other issues are resolved. "We must build the future step by step, even when the future seems bleak. What is required is a refusal to give up, insisting on remaining in the land, providing the people with means to achieve their dreams, and free travel and trade," he said.
He stressed the need to end the blockade: "We look forward to the day when the Palestinians will achieve their dreams and receive their rights and independence. We will then look forward to the day we come to celebrate Palestine's independence."