Espen Barth Eide
Espen Barth Eide

A future Palestinian state can only be sustainable if it has a good relationship with Israel


Palestine voucher: Espen Barth Eide, former Foreign Minister, Jerusalem (2013)

Responsible editor of MODERN TIMES.
E-mail: truls@nytid.no
Published: July 20, 2020

- You have been traveling around here for a week, for talks with Israel and Palestine - for example Abbas, Peres and Tzipi Livni?

- Yes, this spring we experienced that the paradigm of the Oslo agreement had entered a dead end, and we had to consider whether it was possible to move forward, and still support a Palestinian state project. There were several of us in Norway who asked us if this had any meaning anymore.

- Did this have anything to do with Salam Fayyad?

We had been working with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for several years, but when he resigned, we were afraid that it would all collapse. I think the success of recent years was linked to his personality and abilities.

- Any examples of what worked?

- I think the Palestinians realized that they had to expand the tax base, by stimulating private economic activity. By stimulating an environment for private growth, Palestine could move away from donations and become self-sufficient. For example, a lot of good agricultural land is linked to the C-area, which Israel controls. There one could really carry out new constructions, set up companies, factories and water supplies. But it requires Israel to cooperate and support so that roads, electricity and water supply work.

- How do you see Israel regarding the conflict?

- A future Palestinian state can only be sustainable if it has a good relationship with Israel, which means open borders and easy access. Today, there are many restrictions that hinder normal economic activities. The Palestinians, for example, have to take long detours, as they cannot drive on the settlers' roads.

- So the alternative is one-state solution?

- Yes, it is the logical alternative to a two-state solution. This is dramatic for Israel, with a majority of non-Jews. They will not accept that. They would really have a problem maintaining it Jewish with the state of Israel. Well, today the solution is what some would call "apartheid", which is not compatible with a democracy.

The more I work with this conflict, the more convinced I am that this is completely resolvable.

- If you look ahead, what do you see that Norway's role should be?

- We supported our own Palestinian state already in 1948. We contribute not only financially, but also as an advisor on how a modern state should be built. The more I work with this conflict, the more convinced I am that this is completely resolvable. Unlike Africa, with so many people and problems, we have a group of highly educated people with both good abilities, great commitment and a lot of initiative.

Excerpt from unpublished film interview. From the Palestine Annex June 2020.

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