A 32-year-old alleged right wing terrorist who carried out what appears to be coordinated terror attacks – bombing the building housing the office of the Prime Minister and conducting a massive shooting at a political youth camp on an island just outside the capital – “is suspected of having some right-wing sympathies,” said Police Directorate spokesman Runar Kvernen. “The police are now working with the theory that Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik is involved in both of the tragedies.
One day before the tragic events, a photograph of the country’s Foreign Minister standing near a “Boikott Israel” sign surfaced. The image of Norway’s Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Store who had visited Utoya Island to participate in a political debate was taken by a Reuters News Agency photographer.
Forde Andersen, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of Norway, spoke exclusively with the Algemeiner. He stated that the Foreign Minister was on Utoya “as a guest of the Youth League,” (AUF) the youth wing of Norway’s leading Labor to participate in a debate on the Middle East. He noted that the F.M. shares political affiliation with the group but strongly emphasized the Minister’s opposition to a boycott of Israel.
Norway has, however, expressed a willingness to recognize an independent Palestinian State. Approximately 10 days ago, following a July 18 meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the FM told reporters that it is “perfectly legitimate” for the Palestinian Authority to bring its application for statehood to the United Nations in September. Eskil Pederson, an AUF (Workers Youth League) leader, anticipated that Abbas will seek recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital.
Norway recognized Israel on February 4, 1949, and the two countries established diplomatic relations the same year. It was one of the first countries to recognize the Jewish State. In a translation of a Norwegian Channel 2 television report of Store’s speech the foreign minister is reported to have expressed strong support of a Palestinian state. That message was something being supported by the camp’s attendees, who were part of the ruling Labor Party’s socialist youth movement called AUF.
According to a translated report for Norwegian news station TV2, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store visited the camp on the island of Utoya on Thursday, the day before Breivik opened fire on campers killing 68 of them.
“Together with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation correspondent Sidsel Wold and Norwegian People’s Aid Kirsten Belck-Olsen, he had debated the deadlock between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.” According to a translated report, the Foreign Minister “was met with a demand from the AUF that Norway must recognize a Palestinian state.” It has been reported that mock “Break the Israel blockade” games were a major activity at the Utoya Island meeting.
In conversation with the Algemeiner, the ministry spokesman was adamant that the Foreign Minister has “spoken out against the boycott of Israel “on several occasions” and “has nothing to do with the poster.” In reference to the picture, Andersen added, “it is such distortion of the truth that I find it deeply disturbing that someone would want to manipulate something in this tragic situation.”
Internationally known as the home of the Nobel Peace Prize, Norway now faces a dramatic cultural shift likely to change levels of security in what has been one of the world’s most open societies.