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Israel PM slams Norway for backing 'anti-Israel NGO'

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Israel PM slams Norway for backing 'anti-Israel NGO'
Ine Eriksen Soreide with Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday. Photo: Norwegian Embassy to Israel
16:53 CEST+02:00
Israel’s combative Prime Minister reportedly subjected Norway's foreign minister to a 50-minute verbal tirade during her diplomatic visit to Israel on Sunday.

According to Israel Hayom, the country’s most-read newspaper, Benjamin Netanyahu lambasted Ine Eriksen Soreide for the Norwegian government's financial support for the Oslo-based Norwegian Refugee Council, which the pro-Netanyahu newspaper claims is an “anti-Israel group”.

According to the newspaper sources, Netanyahu asked Soreide to "stop funding NGOs that attack Zionism and the State of Israel." He also said that "having one country take on another country in such a manner is just unacceptable."

Soreide reportedly retorted that Norway was not supporting anti-Israeli activity but humanitarian relief.

Frode Andersen, a press spokesman for the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, said Norway would give no official comment on the reports.

“We are aware of the article, but have no comment on the meeting beyond what has already been communicated to the media,” he told the Aftenposten newspaper. “We do not comment on this sort of speculation about closed-door meetings.”

Tuva Raanes Bogsnes, a press spokesperson for the Norwegian Refugee Council, similarly told The Local it was impossible to comment without knowing for certain what was said in the meeting.

The Norwegian Refugee Council is one of the most respected refugee aid organisations in the world. It is headed by Jan Egeland, a former state secretary in the Norwegian foreign ministry.

But according to a string of recent articles by Israel Hayom, the organisation has been behind a slew of petitions to Israel's High Court of Justice designed to cause a breakdown in the Israeli justice system.

The newspaper cited an unnamed lawyer connected to NRC as saying that the plan was to "try every possible legal measure to disrupt the Israeli judicial system. … As many cases as possible are registered and as many cases as possible are appealed to increase the workload of the courts and the High Court to such an extent that there will be a block". 

The NGO has taken a highly critical stance against Israel, publishing an article comparing the Gaza strip to a prison, for instance. 

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