Norway gives “green light” to boycotts of Israel’s settlements

Calls for a boycott of Israel were made during a recent demonstration in Oslo. 

Ryan Rodrick Beiler ActiveStills

Municipalities which boycott Israel’s illegal settlements do not violate Norway’s international obligations, a foreign ministry official has insisted, dealing a blow to right-wing parties that tried to have two such municipal boycotts rescinded.

Audun Halvorsen, state secretary at the foreign ministry, said early May that a boycott of “goods and services produced in settlements does not contradict Norway’s international commitments.”

His comments came after three right-wing parties had appealed boycotts in Trondheim and Tromsø.

Three local right-wing opposition parties filed a complaint with the Tromsø county governor’s office, requesting a ruling on the resolution’s legality. In addition, the World Jewish Congress urged the Norwegian government to oppose Trondheim’s settlement boycott.

But the attempts to block the local settlement boycotts have failed with Halvorsen’s comments to Tromsø county that such boycotts did not contradict international trade law.

Indeed, international jurists, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have been clear that governments which facilitate or engage in any trade in or with the settlements do not fulfill their human rights obligations.

Apartheid, not conflict

Halvorsen added that the Norwegian government does not recommend municipal boycotts because it is not “an appropriate means of resolving the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

Using the term “conflict” conceals Israel’s establishment of an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people, however. The 2017 UN report “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid” left no doubt about the apartheid character of Israel’s policies and practices towards the Palestinians.

Norway, just like many European states, has close ties with Israel and Norway’s embassy in Israel boasts on its website that “cultural exchange, scientific collaboration, and trade are also growing.”

Norway has a legal obligation under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to act immediately to end the crime of apartheid. It should refuse to aid Israel in maintaining apartheid.

A boycott of settlement products would be a small step.

“The ministry’s statement confirms what we have said all along,” Jane Filseth Andersen, a representative of the organization Norwegian People’s Aid told The Electronic Intifada.

Banning the procurement of illegal settlement goods and services is neither a violation of Norway’s international trade obligations nor any other obligation under international law, Andersen said.

Halvorsen’s statement should be seen “as a green light” for similar resolutions in other councils, some of whom have been waiting to see how the ruling would turn out, she added.

Norwegian People’s Aid will follow this up through its local branches and “encourage as many municipal councils as possible” to pass similar resolutions.

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Another victory in the battle of human rights and most importantly , decency among us all as human beings.

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(1) Government has ZERO business interfering in Civilian boycotts.
(2) Boycotts are the most Democratic and PEACEFUL of actions.
(3) Boycotts are FREEDOM of SPEECH.
(4) Boycotts are FREEDOM of ASSOCIATION -- DISassociation.
(5) Boycotts are VOTING with dollars.
(6) Boycotts PEACEFULLY withhold "power/energy" from those with whom one disagrees without engaging in violence.
(7) In "Capitalism", the system we CLAIM to follow, where and with whom you spend your money is ENTIRELY up to YOU.
The Citizens United Supreme Court decision firmly established that the right to spend money is a form of free speech. That means that the right to NOT spend money is also a form of free speech. Organizing a boycott -- an act of NOT spending money -- is then protected free speech in the same way that soliciting campaign funds to spend on promoting a political candidate or partisan viewpoint is free speech.

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Norway finally has the courage to do something so many countries so far refuse to do,help end the illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and apartheid stephen

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Adri Nieuwhof

Adri Nieuwhof's picture

Adri Nieuwhof is a human rights advocate based in the Netherlands and former anti-apartheid activist at the Holland Committee on Southern Africa. Twitter: @steketeh