|In Norway still more questions:
Norwegian Foreign Minister now admits
PA has special support program
for prisoners, including terrorists, in Israel
PMW reported already in 2011 about this PA program to reward terrorists. Until now, Norway's Foreign Ministry rejected this
and PMW's subsequent reports and gave Norwegian Parliament incorrect information
Norwegian Parliamentary Committee Head now wants to know:
When did the Foreign Ministry learn that
"this program (i.e., payments to prisoners including terrorists)
was different from what they had previously informed Parliament?"
Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
The debate between Norway's Foreign Ministry and its Parliamentary Committee over Norway's funding of the Palestinian Authority is continuing.
Recently, Palestinian Media Watch reported that Norway's Foreign Minister, Espen Barth Eide, admitted that the Foreign Ministry had given Parliament "imprecise" information "obtained from the PA" and from PM Salam Fayyad, denying the PA's use of donor money to pay salaries to security prisoners imprisoned in Israel, among them terrorists.
PMW exposed these salary payments for the first time in 2011, but Norway's Foreign Minister had told Parliament that these payments were social welfare to the families, based on the false information supplied by the PA. The latest report on state-owned NRK TV shows the Norwegian Foreign Minister viewing PMW reports with investigative TV journalist Tormod Strand:
NRK TV's Tormod Strand:
"The Foreign Minister says the PA misinformed Norway."
Foreign Minister Barth Eide:
"[As for] the insufficient information [we] first received [from the PA], I think that is very unfortunate."
Click to view
However, MP Anders Anundsen, the Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs, stated to NRK TV that he was not satisfied with the Foreign Minister's answer, specifically questioning when the Foreign Minister became aware that it had passed on false information from the PA to Parliament:
"I think there are some weak points in the letter. We still don't have complete clarification about when the Foreign Ministry in fact became aware that this program [PA salaries to prisoners including terrorists] was different from what they had previously informed Parliament."
As noted, PMW publicized the correct information in 2011 and in subsequent reports.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Eide added that they are still seeking more clarifications from the PA regarding the possibility that donor money is going to terrorists in prison:
"I certainly have not had documented that it (the money) does not go to people who have been convicted of terror, and information has been given (i.e., in PMW reports) that those who are [imprisoned] for many years, receive more money than those [imprisoned for] less [time]. And that is precisely why we, along with the UK, have asked for even more detailed information in a letter we recently sent the PA."
According to Foreign Minister Eide in his letter to the Committee, the false information was sent by the PA to Norway in September 2011, following PMW's original report exposing the PA salary payments to terrorists:
"Information that the Norwegian Representative Office [in the PA] obtained from the PA Finance Ministry on Sept. 5, 2011 showed that the support program was the same for Palestinian prisoners in both Palestinian and Israeli prisons. In February 2013, it became apparent that prisoners in Palestinian jails are not included in the same program, but that their families only receive ordinary social support. In other words, the PA has a special [support] program for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails." (Emphasis added.)
Foreign Minister Eide also noted that Norway and the UK have now written and delivered an additional letter to the PA "with a series of detailed questions about the [support] program [for prisoners]."
Foreign Minister Eide stressed that he refused to accept responsibility for the PA's payments to prisoners:
"Norway and other donors have not at any time backed PA's support program for Palestinian prisoners. The program is fully and completely the PA's responsibility."
PMW notes that neither Norway nor the UK has indicated what measures they will take if any following this false information supplied by the PA denying it paid salaries to terrorists. No western donors permit the PA to use their financial support for payments to terrorists.
To review how the story has been developing in Norway:
Click to see how PMW's findings generated this debate in Norway, the responses of Norwegian MPs, the Parliamentary Committee investigation if Norway is funding Palestinian terrorists, and how the Parliamentary Committee expressed dissatisfaction with the Foreign Minister's first answer.
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 transcript of the report on Norwegian NRK TV:
Newsreader: "Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide is now involving himself in the issue of the Palestinians who are convicted of terrorism and who also receive large sums of money from the PA. Every year, Norway gives a lot of money to the PA and according to Foreign Minister Eide the [Norwegian] government was misinformed [by the PA] about this issue."
NRK TV reporter Tormod Strand: "Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide is now trying to clarify the issue (exposed by PMW), which [NRK TV] Evening News has brought up - the PA's financial support of Palestinian prisoners convicted of terror. At first, the [Norwegian] Foreign Ministry denied that such a program exists, but after carefully checking with Palestine, it all looks somewhat different."
Visual during above narration: NRK reporter Tormod Strand shows PMW's documentation to the Norwegian Foreign Minister.
Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide:
"I certainly have not had documented that it (the money) doesn't go to people who have been convicted of terror, and information has been given (see PMW reports
) that those who are [imprisoned] for many years receive more money than those [imprisoned for] less. That is precisely why we, along with the UK, have asked [the PA] for even more detailed information in a letter we recently sent the PA."
NRK TV reporter Tormod Strand: "The Foreign Minister says the PA has misinformed Norway."
Barth Eide: "[As for] the insufficient information [we] first received [from the PA], I think that is very unfortunate."
NRK TV reporter Tormod Strand: "NRK [TV]'s reports (on PMW findings) made the Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs look into the matter. The suspicion is that Parliament did not receive correct information from the Foreign Ministry. Yesterday the Committee received a new letter from the Foreign Minister. The head of the Committee is still not pleased."
MP Anders Anundsen, Head of Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs (Progress Party): "I think there are some weak points in the letter. We still don't have complete clarification about when the Foreign Ministry became aware that this program (i.e., the PA's program of payments to prisoners including terrorists) was different than what they had previously informed Parliament. This means that there is reason to consider whether we should send another letter [to the Foreign Minister] after Easter."
[NRK TV Evening News (Norway), March 21, 2013]
Click to see pdf of English translation of the Norwegian Foreign Minister's second 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
Click to see pdf of English translation of the Norwegian Foreign Minister's first answer to the Parliamentary Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs