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Norway, allies working on concept for unified Palestinian government

1 min

A number of European states, "concerned" Arab countries and the United States are working on a concept for a unified Palestinian government that could attract reconstruction funds, Norway's foreign minister said in an interview in Davos.

Norway's Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, NTB/Stian Lysberg Solum via Reuters

A number of European states, "concerned" Arab countries and the United States are working on a concept for a unified Palestinian government that could attract reconstruction funds, Norway's foreign minister said in an interview in Davos.

"A number of countries are working with us... trying to build a broad unity government," Espen Barth Eide said, without naming the specific countries.

Norway was of the view that a unified Palestinian territory should be run by the Palestinian Authority, but "prefacing everything, it has to be what the Palestinians want", he added.

Norway served as a facilitator in the 1992-1993 talks between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that led to the Oslo Accords in 1993.

The Palestinian Authority, set up under that agreement, exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank and held talks with Israel on a Palestinian state before they collapsed in 2014. Islamist Hamas has ruled in Gaza since 2007 and is sworn to Israel's destruction.

Since the Oslo talks, Norway has chaired a donor group coordinating international assistance to the Palestinian territories, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), and worked with others to try to revive a diplomatic channel between Israel and the Palestinians.

Barth Eide said work on a two-state solution was becoming urgent as the conflict was spreading in the region, but that only the United States and the Israeli people could influence Israel's position.

"What we can do is work on Palestinian unity, and think about models with interested countries," he said.

Calls for a two-state solution have grown in the wake of attacks on Israel on Oct. 7 in which Hamas gunmen killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages, prompting an Israeli bombardment and ground offensive against Hamas-ruled Gaza in which health authorities in the territory say more than 24,000 people have been killed.

A two-state agreement would create a state for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip alongside Israel. Israel has said a Palestinian state must be demilitarized so as not to threaten its security.

By Victoria Waldersee

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