The Norwegian Prime Minister's introduction to the press conference on recognition of Palestine

´There will be no peace in the Middle East without a two-state solution. There can be no two-state solution without a Palestinian state. In other words: a Palestinian state is a prerequisite for achieving peace in the Middle East´, said Prime Minister Støre.


Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide and Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre at a press cconference.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide and Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. Credit: Mathias Rongved / Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Translated to English from Norwegian (as delivered at the press conference)

Good morning!

The Norwegian Government has decided that Norway will recognise the State of Palestine.

Norway's recognition will take effect on 28 May.

With this step, Norway will consider Palestine to be an independent, sovereign state – with all the rights and duties this entails.

A Palestinian state is obliged – in line with international law – to live in peace within secure, internationally recognised borders, and to comply with relevant UN resolutions.

The territorial demarcation between the State of Palestine and the State of Israel should be based on the pre-1967 borders, i.e. the demarcation line from the Armistice Agreements of 1949, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, and without prejudice to a final settlement on borders, including the use of land swaps.

This news, that we share today, underlines what has been Norway's long-standing position:

The Palestinians have a fundamental, independent right to self-determination. Both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in peace and security in their respective states. This was the basis for the UN's partition plan in 1947 – as well as the recognition of Israel by Norway and several other countries in 1949.

There will be no peace in the Middle East without a two-state solution.

There can be no two-state solution without a Palestinian state.

In other words: a Palestinian state is a prerequisite for achieving peace in the Middle East.

Today, we are making our long-standing position unequivocally clear: A lasting solution to the conflict can only be achieved through a two-state solution.

Recognition of Palestine is a means of supporting moderate forces – which have been losing ground in this protracted and brutal conflict.

It is an investment in the only solution that can bring lasting peace to the Middle East.

And it is a strong call to other countries to follow suit:

To recognise Palestine – and thereby giving new momentum to the resumption of the process towards achieving a two-state solution.

In the midst of a war – with tens of thousands dead and injured – we must keep alive the only alternative that offers a safe home for both Israelis and Palestinians:

Two states, living in peace with each other – Israel and Palestine.


Now, I would like to go into more detail about why Norway is recognising Palestine as a state – and why we are doing so now.

Successive Norwegian governments have been consistent in the belief that the only lasting solution to the conflict in the Middle East must be based on a two-state solution.

However, since the Oslo Accords thirty years ago, the strategy has been that recognition would follow a peace agreement.

We must acknowledge that this has not been successful.

In the absence of a peace process and a political solution to the conflict, developments on the ground have gone in the wrong direction.

We have seen that terrorism and violence from Hamas and other militant groups have undermined the trust that is so essential to achieving lasting peace.

We have seen that Israel's illegal settlements have undermined the territorial basis for a viable Palestinian state.

We see that under such conditions, neither the Palestinian nor the Israeli people can live their lives in security. We see daily examples of this, with violence and acts of war.

Moreover: With a lack of economic development, dependence on aid and internal divisions, Palestine has been caught in a downward spiral.

A general sense of hopelessness has grown stronger among the Palestinians for every year that has passed.

That is why we need to think differently and act accordingly.

We can no longer wait for the conflict to be resolved before we recognise the state of Palestine.

Many actors – inside and outside the region – have also realised that the Middle East needs a new course.

Recent normalisation agreements were concluded between some of the Arab countries and Israel, as attempts to create stability and peace in the Middle East. But without solving the Palestinian question.

What we need now is normalisation – with a solution to the Palestinian question. Norway sees this – and even more importantly – the United States, the Arab countries, the EU and China also see it more clearly.

The backdrop is bleak. The terror attack against Israel on 7 October was a horrific attack on innocent Israeli civilians. Norway has condemned the attack in the strongest terms.

We have clearly stated that Israel has the right to defend itself within the framework of international law. We have demanded that the hostages are to be released immediately.

The terror was committed by Hamas – which is not a supporter of any two-state solution – and which also does not recognise Israel.

Therefore, it is our view that the recognition of Palestine can strengthen the moderate forces on the Palestinian side. These forces are working peacefully for a two-state solution – a state functioning within the UN Charter framework, and in compliance with international law and relevant UN resolutions. This is not the case for Hamas.

Recognition may also strengthen moderate forces on the Israeli side.

It may help give Palestine the opportunity to negotiate with Israel on more equal terms – and offer hope for the future to the Palestinian people.

Norway has chaired the international donor group for Palestine (AHLC) for a long period of time. And we are one of the countries that has contributed most systematically to Palestinian state-building.

When we now recognise Palestine as a state, we can with greater force encourage other countries to support the building a Palestinian state. We can also hold the Palestinian state accountable.

Therefore, recognition of Palestine as a state is a natural next step in the policy that Norway has pursued for several decades.


Now to the question – why is the Government's decision coming now? There are four factors I would like to focus on here.

First, the war itself:

The ongoing war in Gaza has made it abundantly clear that achieving peace and stability must be predicated on resolving the Palestinian question. Hamas is responsible for the heinous attack on 7 October. Israel has the right to defend itself within the framework of international law. This is a recurrence of acts of war that have taken place at regular intervals in recent years. 

The war is the lowest point in the prolonged, negative development in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The war in Gaza has led to increased unrest in the West Bank, growing tensions between the countries in the region, and the situation in the Middle East has not been this grave for many years.

There is now increasingly broad, international consensus that, while achieving it remains far in the future, the only lasting solution to the conflict is a two-state solution – where the Palestinian Authority, and not armed militia groups, is responsible for the reconstruction and development of Palestine.

Second, in the UN:

An increasing number of countries now see the need to strengthen the international political voice of the Palestinian people.

At the UN General Assembly on 10 May, as many as 143 countries voted in favour of a resolution supporting Palestinian membership of the UN.

Of these 143 were 23 countries, one of which is Norway, that have not yet recognised Palestine as a state. Now we are taking this important step.

Third, developments in the Middle East:

By recognising a Palestinian state, we support the Arab peace plan, which major players in the region have been working on since 7 October. We have long believed that Arab countries must assume greater responsibility in the region in relation to the conflict and support for the Palestinians.

Two crucial aspects of the Arab peace plan are the establishment of a Palestinian state, and normalisation of relations between Arab countries and Israel, which entails recognition of the state of Israel.

Norway is cooperating closely with Saudi Arabia and is taking active steps to mobilise European support for the Arab peace vision.

And fourth, there is now increased support in Europe for a Palestinian state:

Norway is recognising Palestine as a state at a time when other European countries are aiming to do the same – I can mention Spain and Ireland.

Spain has for long said that it will recognise Palestine as a state. Oslo and Madrid played important – but different – roles in the peace process in the early 1990s. We have been in close contact in recent months.

We are in close contact with other European countries as well, and the US is informed of our reasoning and decision.

And finally, the Government is taking these steps as part of the follow-up to the decision taken by the Storting (Norwegian parliament) on 16 November 2023, where the Storting decided that the Government should be (and I quote): “Prepared to recognise Palestine as a state at a time when recognition can have a positive impact on a peace process and without reservations about a final peace agreement” (end of quote). We believe the right time has come.


I know that Norway’s decision will provoke reactions – especially from Israel.

The Israeli authorities have been informed of our decision. We will continue to convey to Israel that our goal – our policy – is to help both Israelis and Palestinians to live together in peace and security, as two states, side by side.

Norway is a friend of Israel – and Norway is a friend of Palestine. Norway was one of the first countries to recognise the state of Israel in 1949.

Israel is in a vulnerable security situation. Again, Norway recognises Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself – within the framework of international law.

However, I believe that the two-state solution is in Israel's best interest. It will help to establish a more peaceful and stable region, also for Israel.

Let me also add: While this war is raging, many members of the Jewish community in Norway have experienced anti-Semitism and felt unsafe. We cannot accept this in Norway. We all have a responsibility in this regard.


It is also important to emphasise the following:

Norway also has a set of clear expectations when it today recognises the state of Palestine. Because statehood is accompanied by obligations. 

I would like to refer to the commitments that Palestine made in its application for UN membership, emphasising the commitment to live in peace, as well as comply with international law and the UN Charter.

At the same time, we see what everyone sees: Recognition will not, in itself, be sufficient to ensure that a Palestinian state will be sustainable in the foreseeable future.

Nonetheless, especially in a situation where war is raging and many are losing hope – we must hold on to the goal of two states, for Israelis and Palestinians, as the only alternative that can provide lasting peace.

Only a two-state solution can provide security, predictability and hope for the future for the peoples of Israel and Palestine.

Lastly, on a personal note, I would like to say that throughout my political life, across various positions and roles, I have been involved in efforts to resolve the Middle East conflict. Norway may not be a dominant actor in these efforts, but we have a special history and many ties – I have many friends on both sides.

The Israeli and Palestinian cause has deep roots in the Labour movement and in the political party I lead, with a strong commitment to ensuring that Israel and Palestine are able to live in peaceful coexistence.

It is therefore my long, personal political engagement that has convinced me of this decision: It is right for Norway to recognise the state of Palestine now.

I now give the floor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.