Five months of war in Gaza:

Ten ways in which Norway is working to improve the situation for the Palestinian people

‘The situation in Gaza is a man-made disaster. Israel's use of military force is having a disproportionately severe impact on the civilian population and is not in line with international humanitarian law. There is an urgent need for a ceasefire and to deliver more life-saving humanitarian aid to the population,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

Some 31 000 people have been killed in Gaza, including at least 12 000 children. Almost 80 % of the population have been forced to flee their homes. There is a shortage of all essential items and, according to the UN, people in several areas of Gaza are facing famine and outbreaks of disease.

‘We must all do more to address this terrible situation. And we must focus our efforts on what can make a difference. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to the war in Palestine, but there are ways we can try to improve the situation. And we will continue to do just that,’ said Mr Eide.

In recent months, Norway has focused on the following key areas:

1. Norway was one of the first Western countries to call for a ceasefire

Norway was one of the first Western countries to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. As early as October last year, we voted in favour of this in the UN General Assembly. The Minister of Foreign Affairs also called for a ceasefire in his statement to the UN Security Council. In addition, we have issued strong warnings against a ground invasion in Rafah and against any forced displacement of civilians from Gaza. Norway  supports the efforts to achieve a ceasefire and the release of the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.                                                                                                                

2. Norway ensured that the Palestinian Authority received financial transfers from Israel

Following the terrorist attack on 7 October, the Israeli authorities withheld large parts of the clearance revenues they collect on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. As a result of a temporary scheme, facilitated by Norway, approximately NOK 3 billion was transferred from Israel to the Palestinian Authority. This has made it possible for teachers, nurses, police, and cleaning personnel to receive their salaries again and for the Palestinian population to continue to have access to essential services.

3. Norway has urged continued support for UNRWA

A number of Western countries suspended their support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) following allegations from Israel that some UNRWA employees in Gaza had been involved in the terrorist attack on 7 October. Norway, however, made it clear that it would continue to support the organisation and would increase its funding. We are also urging other countries to resume their support. UNRWA plays a critical role in all humanitarian efforts not only in Gaza, but also in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.                             

4. Norway increased its support to Palestine by over NOK 800 million

In response to the enormous humanitarian needs that have arisen because of the war, Norway has increased its support to Palestine by over NOK 800 million. Most of this funding is being used to provide essential supplies such as water, food, medicines, and fuel to the people of Gaza. In 2023, Norway’s support to the Palestinians totalled more than NOK 1.7 billion. We will maintain a high level of support in 2024.                                                       

5. Norway advised against trade and business activity with Israeli settlements

On 7 March 2024, the Government advised Norwegian companies not to engage in business cooperation or trade that serves to perpetuate the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in the Golan Heights. Norway has long maintained that Israel’s settlement policy is in violation of international law and undermines the prospects of achieving a future Palestinian state and a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Norwegian business community has confirmed that it will follow these recommendations.      

6. Norway has taken an active part in the work of the International Court of Justice (ICJ)

On 23 February 2024, Norway delivered an intervention to the International Court of Justice in the Hague clearly stating that the illegal Israeli settlements constitute the biggest obstacle to a two-state solution. We support initiatives to enlist the help of the international courts in assessing questions relating to the situation in Gaza. It is essential that all potential international crimes are investigated and that the individuals responsible are held accountable.

7. As chair of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), the international donor group for Palestine, Norway is leading efforts to strengthen Palestinian state institutions

The objective of our efforts is the establishment of an independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel. The international donor group AHLC, which is chaired by Norway, is working to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian state institutions- politically and economically, and promote the implementation of necessary reforms to lay the foundation for an independent Palestinian state, in the West Bank and Gaza, under one Palestinian government.

8. Norway has worked to counter perceptions of double standards

The war in Gaza has reinforced perceptions in many countries in the Global South that Western countries have double standards. Norway emphasises in all relevant forums the need for all parties to war to respect international humanitarian law, regardless of the right of states to use force in self-defence. Israel’s military campaign in Gaza fails to adequately distinguish between civilians and combatants and represents a clear breach of international humanitarian law. The civilian population in Gaza must be protected and must be given access to life-saving assistance and supplies.

9. Norway supports the Arab peace plan aimed at achieving regional peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state

In December last year, foreign ministers from various countries in the Middle East, including Palestine, and from the Nordic region and the Benelux countries took part in a high-level meeting in Oslo on the war in Gaza. At the meeting, the foreign ministers discussed the grave humanitarian situation, the importance of preventing the war from spreading to other parts of the Middle East, and the need for a political process towards a ceasefire and a two-state solution. Norway is actively following up these efforts.      

10. Preparing for a massive increase in coordinated, targeted humanitarian aid

Together with Egypt, we are working to organise a humanitarian conference for Gaza to secure more and better coordinated humanitarian assistance. Norway is working tirelessly to improve humanitarian access to Gaza so that life-saving supplies can be delivered to the people of Gaza, who are in dire need of assistance.