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Norwegian Foreign Ministry admits giving "imprecise" information about PA use of foreign aid
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Norway update:
Norwegian Foreign Ministry admits
giving Parliament "imprecise" information
"obtained from the PA" and PM Salam Fayyad
about the PA's using foreign aid
to pay terrorist salaries

Norway's Foreign Ministry:
"It is unfortunate that the information that was first communicated
[by the Foreign Ministry] to Parliament and which was based
on information obtained from the PA at the time, in retrospect,
is imprecise."

Norway's Foreign Ministry's current statement
corroborates PMW reports,
which the Norwegian Foreign Ministry
has questioned until now

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

The Norwegian Parliamentary Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs is not satisfied with the first answer it has received from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry regarding PA's using Norwegian aid for terrorist salaries. The Committee has "demanded a better and more thorough answer from the Foreign Ministry," Norwegian state-owned NRK TV's News reported last week.

Click to view

NRK TV:
"Two weeks ago, [NRK TV] Evening News told [the story] of Ibrahim Hamed. He is one of the approx. 4,600 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, who, according to the Israeli organization Palestinian Media Watch, receive salaries from the PA while they are in prison... The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly denied that salaries are given to terrorists..."
 
The Foreign Ministry has now admitted in its answer to the Committee that the ministry's denial is not correct and it is blaming the PA for the "imprecise" information:
"It is unfortunate that the information that was first communicated to [Norwegian] Parliament, and which was based on information obtained from the PA at the time, in retrospect, is imprecise."

"Apparently, the Foreign Ministry is on thin ice," MP and member of the Parliamentary Committee Per-Kristian Foss commented to NRK TV News. "We will request answers to the question: When did you (the Foreign Ministry) discover this so-called new information? Isn't this really information that has been available for a long time (i.e., from the PMW reports)?"

In his letter, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide explained that:
"According to the PA, the discussed support program is not a salary - but direct support for the prisoners' canteen expenses and social allowance to the families of prisoners. The social allowance compensates for the loss of income because the main breadwinner is no longer able to contribute." (See below for full translation of the Foreign Ministry's letter to the Committee.)
 
Minister Barth Eide stated that "this is what we and other donors have been told on previous occasions, and this was again maintained by [PA] Prime Minister Fayyad in a meeting with Norwegian representatives last week [March 2013]." Discussing "the arrangement and level of the support program for the prisoners" at the meeting, the Norwegian representatives had stated "that we (Norway) find aspects of this [prisoner support program] problematic," the minister explained. (emphasis added)

Admitting that Norway has "been made aware of new information on this issue that differs from earlier information provided by the PA," the Foreign Minister further explained in the letter that the Norwegian representatives at the meeting with Fayyad therefore also "stated that we (Norway) find this unfortunate."

This "new information" is now being questioned by the Parliamentary Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs. In the Committee's answer to the Foreign Minister, the Committee says:
"The Committee would like to know which investigations were undertaken [by the Foreign Ministry] to verify the information that was provided to Parliament on the PA's use of the budget support and the scope and extent of the 'social support.' Has the Foreign Ministry, for example, assured itself that the 'social support' has gone to the prisoners' families?" (See below for full translation of the Committee's letter to the Foreign Ministry.)
 
The Committee ends its letter to the Foreign Ministry questioning when the ministry received what the minister refers to as "new information" with the following question:
"What information is referred to and when did the Foreign Ministry receive such information?"
 
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry's answer corroborates PMW's findings published last month that the PA may have been lying to Norway and Britain about the PA's use of foreign aid to pay terrorist salaries in order to receive continued funding from these countries.

Click to see how PMW's findings have generated this debate in Norway, the responses of Norwegian MPs, and how as a result the Parliamentary Committee investigated if Norway is funding Palestinian terrorists in prison.

Click to see the UK Parliament debate of PMW's findings about PA hate incitement and UK's funding of the PA.

The following is the report on Norwegian NRK TV Evening News:

NRK TV newsreader: "The [Norwegian] Foreign Ministry now admits that [Norwegian] Parliament received imprecise information [from the Foreign Ministry] regarding financial support to Palestinian prisoners. Today the Parliamentary Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs demanded a better and more thorough answer from the Foreign Ministry."

NRK TV narrator: "Two weeks ago, [NRK TV] Evening News told [the story] of Ibrahim Hamed. He is one of the approx. 4,600 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, who, according to the Israeli organization Palestinian Media Watch, receive salaries from the PA while they are in prison. Ibrahim Hamed was behind a bomb that killed nine civilians in Jerusalem in 2002. Norway is one of the major financial contributors to Palestine and since 2008 has given over 300 million [Norwegian] kroner in budget support annually. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly denied that salaries are given to terrorists, but following [NRK TV's] Evening News' reports the Parliamentary Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs has brought up the matter with the Foreign Ministry. Now, the letter (with the Foreign Ministry's response) has arrived. The Foreign Ministry admits that: 'It is unfortunate that the information that was first communicated to [Norwegian] Parliament, and which was based on information obtained from the PA at the time, in retrospect, is imprecise.'"

NRK TV narrator: "Today, the Parliamentary Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs is demanding a better answer from the Foreign Ministry."

Member of the Parliamentary Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs, MP Per-Kristian Foss: "It is striking that it takes an NRK [TV]-investigation and questions from Parliament before they (the Foreign Ministry) discover that the money has been used in a different way than what [the PA] has been reporting. Apparently, the Foreign Ministry is on thin ice. Therefore [the ministry] is asking for time to investigate further. But in the meantime we will request answers to the question: When did you (the Foreign Ministry) discover this so-called new information? Isn't this really information that has been available for a long time?"

NRK TV narrator: "The Foreign Ministry says in a statement that they are now waiting for a formal response from [the] Parliament [Committee]."
[NRK TV Evening News (Norway), March 12, 2013]
 
Click to see pdf of English translation of the Norwegian Foreign Minister's first answer to the Parliamentary Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs

Click to see pdf of English translation of the Norwegian Parliamentary Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs' answer to the Foreign Minister.


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