Change Region:Northern Ireland


Printer-friendly versionSend by email


From left to right, Israeli Ambassador to Norway Liora Herzl, Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, and leader of the conservative Progress Party Carl Hagen, at the Israeli conference in Norway.

ICEJ Executive Director Malcolm Hedding, one of the main speakers, said the conference grew in magnitude as the weekend (Jan. 24-26) continued and more key politicians participated. Of 165 members of the Storting, Norway?s parliament, 30 attended the conference.

?The Congress gained stature as leaders and delegates were attracted to it, so that, in the end, even the prime minister of Norway attended,? Hedding said.

The conference was hosted in the very city near where the Oslo Accords were secretly brokered in 1993. The Accords, now barely more than a tattered memory, were based on a land-for-peace formula requiring the Palestinians to renounce terrorism, disarm terror groups and solve the conflict with Israel through peaceful negotiations, in exchange for Israel making territorial concessions in the disputed territories.

The Accords failed largely due to lack of Palestinian compliance, as IDF withdrawals were met with suicide bombings inside Israel. And instead of peace, the pact spawned the current upsurge in Palestinian terrorism that Israelis face today even though they basically kept their end of the agreement.

?In light of the Oslo Accords and the violation of the same by the Palestinian Authority, it was highly significant that in Oslo a conference was launched to speak out for and on behalf of Israel in a way that demonstrated that though Israel is strong and is perceived to be militarily strong, she is nevertheless the victim in this conflict,? Hedding said.

ICEJ Executive Director Malcolm Hedding during the pro-Israel march in Oslo.

Hedding said the Oslo congress provided the ICEJ with an opportunity to put Israel?s case forward before Norway?s leading politicians not only morally, historically and politically, but also theologically.

The Israeli Ambassador to Norway Liora Herzl, a relative of the founder of the Zionist movement Theodor Herzl, addressed the attendees with PM Bondevik present, eloquently laying out Israel?s case and feeling of isolation as it faces daily terror threats.

The prime minister also addressed the gathering, followed by a response from Hedding which drew the connection between Adolph Hitler?s ?Mein Kampf,? a plan openly calling for the destruction of European Jews, to statements made by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in a Johannesburg mosque in 1994 that the PLO had not moved away from its phased plan to destroy Israel.

World leaders brushed off Hitler?s plan as fanciful when his pamphlet came out, Hedding noted. ?But Hitler started a war, and exterminated millions of Jews.? Arafat?s plans have been similarly dismissed, he stated.

?There?s no way the Palestinians can have their national aspirations fulfilled at the expense of Israel?s destruction.?

Between 1,500-2,000 people attended the gathering in the Scandinavian capital.

The three-day conference ended on Sunday, as nearly 1000 demonstrators rallied outside the Parliament buildings in downtown Oslo after marching through the center of the capital.

The leader of the conservative Progress Party, Carl Hagen, the largest faction in parliament, told the rally that he could not understand why Israel had not received more support from the Norwegian public opinion.

?I hope Norwegian media will stop the one-sided criticism of Israel,? Hagen said.

About 20 pro-Palestinians demonstrators were kept at bay by police nearby, as the enthusiastic marchers drowned out their anti-Israel chants.