Norway may reconise state of Palestine

'Watching for results and initiatives'

JERUSALEM - Norway may unilaterally recognise a Palestinian state if there is no progress in efforts to end the conflict with Israel, Oslo's top diplomat said in an interview published Thursday.
"I would like to be the first to recognise the state of Palestine when negotiations have been completed," Jonas Gahr Stoere told the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper.
"I say so as long as there is a prospect for those negotiations. If it is clear to people that there is no such prospect we will have to reevaluate," he said after meeting with top Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an attempt to resurrect some form of peace dialogue between them.
Europe was "watching for results and initiatives" which would lead to a peace agreement, but many were running out of patience, he told the paper.
"I think that in key European capitals the hope to see that change is thinner than it used to be."
As long as there was "credible progress toward a two-state solution," the international community would back such efforts, Stoere said.
In a separate interview with the English-language Jerusalem Post, Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who is also in the region, suggested that Stockholm would hold off recognising a Palestinian state until the two sides reach a deal.
"I will look forward to recognising a Palestinian state as soon as possible, but there (first) has to be a Palestinian state" he said when asked if Sweden was considering such a step.
"A state has to be founded on an end of occupation, and an end of occupation is based upon an agreement with Israel."
Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians ran into difficulties in September last year, just weeks after they were launched by US President Barack Obama with the aim of reaching a comprehensive deal within a year.
Since then, the talks, which foundered over a dispute about Israeli settlement building, have been completely frozen, and the Palestinians have instead begun pursuing diplomatic alternatives for achieving their long-promised state.
The Jerusalem Post said Stoere, who met Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, had not been briefed about the Israeli prime minister's intention, widely reported the same day, to push for a long-term interim agreement.
Bildt was to meet Netanyahu on Thursday.