The New Arab / September 27, 2023
Speaking at an AHLC meeting last week, the Norwegian foreign minister said that “time was running out” for a two-state solution for Palestine.
Anniken Huitfeldt made the statement during a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), a UN body tasked with delivering aid to Palestinians, last week in New York.
Huitfeldt said that while Norway believes that a two-state solution remains “the best way to secure peace and security for both people,” time is about “to run out” for such a proposal.
The top diplomat said that the current situation – where Israel continues to violently occupy the Palestinian territories and deny Palestinians their rights – is “moving towards a one-state reality without equal rights for all.”
Israel has illegally occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem since 1967 following the June War, with violence and violations of rights intensifying since Benjamin Netanyahu’s current government came to power in December 2022.
Huitfeldt called the lack of equal rights for Palestinians “unacceptable,” suggesting that a single state be created where Palestinians are granted equal rights alongside Israelis.
Many Palestinian activists have advocated for this solution before and it was first proposed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the 1970s.
However, Israel has refused to grant Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip equal rights or to withdraw from these territories and allow Palestinians to establish an independent state there.
The Norwegian foreign minister also highlighted the ALHC’s failure to realize its goals concerning Palestinian issues. Nonetheless, Huitfeldt said progress had been made in several fields, with hospitals and schools being built.
In her speech, she urged Israel to refrain from actions “undermining” the Palestinian Authority, and to lift restrictions on the use of land in Israeli-controlled Area C and the Gaza Strip, which has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007.
She further called on the parties to “seek a political solution.”
“If there is no end to the occupation and no progress on the political front, any achievements will only have limited effect,” she said.
The meeting coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, which was marked this month.
The agreement was signed as a step towards a solution for the conflict, based on a two-state vision. However, talks have stalled for over a decade amid Israel’s refusal to withdraw from the West Bank and East Jerusalem
Palestinians have been subject to increasing violence under Israeli occupation, with hundreds being killed and injured in military raids since March 2022.
Settler attacks have also increased and settlement expansion has been greenlighted by Israel’s far-right government. All settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal under international law.
Netanyahu’s cabinet includes extremist ministers who have incited racism and violence against Palestinians, such as Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and the Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir.
More than 200 Palestinians have been killed so far this year, in one of the highest annual death tolls in the occupied territories.