Norway will be monitoring the treatment that the United States citizens with Palestinian roots receive when travelling to Israel, and if they are treated better than those of Norway, the country plans to raise the issue with Israeli authorities and at the European Union level.
That is what the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anniken Huitfeldt, has told activist and politician for the Socialist Left Party, Ingrid Fiskaa, who asked whether the government is planning to try out a similar arrangement to that the US has reached with Israel, that permits American Palestinians to travel visa-free and easily to Palestine.
Responding to Fiskaa, Minister Huitfeldt called unacceptable the challenges that Norwegian citizens with a Palestinian background go through when visiting Israel and Palestine.
“From the Norwegian side, we expect equal treatment of all Norwegian citizens and that Israel respects the agreement on mutual visa freedom. All Norwegian citizens must be treated in the same way as Israeli citizens travelling to Norway,” she said.
According to Huitfeldt, the Ministry she leads addresses the issue regularly in dialogue with the Israeli authorities, adding that the embassy in Tel Aviv assists Norwegian citizens when entering Israel on a regular basis.
Huitfeldt further assured Fiskaa in her response that Norway will monitor the new trial scheme for US citizens with a Palestinian background, which is set to last six weeks, and react accordingly.
“If it turns out that American citizens with a Palestinian background receive better treatment than Norwegian citizens with a similar background, we will raise the issue with Israel and with the EU and other closely related countries,” the Minister said.
Recently, the US government and Israel have reached an agreement on a trial of visa-free travel for US citizens with Palestinian backgrounds, to both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The move has been taken after over 40 years of the Israeli government pushing to secure visa-free entry for its citizens, which had been made difficult with the US asking for equal treatment to all American citizens, including Palestinian Americans, who often were not able to enter the country through Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport.
While the US and Israel are only now close to reaching a visa-free travel agreement, Norway and Israel have had mutual visa freedom since 1966.
When Norway became part of the Schengen Area, it started applying the common European set of regulations on visas and entry to the Schengen area, and since Israel is one the list of countries the citizens of which can enter the Schengen zone visa-free, all Israeli passport holders can also enter Norway visa-free.