Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs has told Haaretz newspaper that his country regards goods produced in Israeli settlements as illegal under international law. Jonas Gahr Store said that his country must consider how to deal with such produce.
On the eve of his visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah, Mr. Gahr Store also said that Norway is studying several possibilities for the adoption of a policy which opposes the expansion of Israeli settlements. All settlements are considered to be illegal under international laws and conventions.
The Norwegian politician is heading to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories as part of the preparations for an international conference of donor countries to be held in New York next month. A discussion of the situation in so-called area 'C' of the occupied lands is on the conference agenda, the minister said. He was very critical of Israeli policy in this regard.
The newspaper reported him saying that his country is following up the issue of Israeli misuse of occupied land in area 'C', especially in Hebron. He said that the inclusion of area 'C' in the Oslo accord was an interim solution. "There was no room to give Israel a chance to expand its settlements and related infrastructure which now cover 60% of the total area of the West Bank, at the expense of Palestinians," he pointed out.
The minister, whose country hosted the signing ceremony of the eponymous accords in Oslo in 1993, said: "When Norway approved the integration of Israel in the OECD, it made clear that it does not mean including settlements in the West Bank as part of Israel." He told Haaretz that although Israel might regard the Palestinian territories as disputed areas, Norway believes them to be occupied according to international law.
When asked about the Iranian nuclear issue, Gahr Store said that although Norway recognises the deep Israeli fears and, therefore, supports imposing sanctions on Iran, "my country opposes a military operation against Tehran."