Norwegian statesman Kaare Kristiansen, who made his name as a friend of Israel since the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948, passed away
yesterday at the age of 85.
My first contact with Kaare Kristiansen was in Jerusalem in December, 1994,
when I was literally en route to fly to Norway, to cover the Nobel Peace Prize
ceremony, where Arafat, Peres and Rabin were being honored. I got beeped to hear
Kristiansen in Jerusalem.
With my Suitcase in hand, I encountered Kristiansen as he entered into
Jerusalem's Hilton Hotel, arm in arm with Yehudah Wachsman, whose son Nachshon
had been kidnapped and then brutally murdered on six weeks before.
Kristiansen had called an impromptu press conference, to apologize to the people
of Israel for the Nobel Peace Prize that Arafat was about to receive, and
explained why he had resigned from the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in 1994 - as
a protest against the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize that year to Arafat.
Kristiansen spoke in an unambiguous tone saying that "Arafat is not a man of
peace or integrity, and not someone who deserves a Nobel Peace Prize", adding
that "Arafat had yet to speak a word of peace and reconciliation to his own
people in their own language".
It was refreshing to hear a politician speaking in clear terms of integrity, a
man who was ahead of his time in warning that Arafat was not a man of peace and
a man who deserved no prizes of any kind.
Five years later was my second encounter with Kristiansen, this time in Oslo,
when the signatories to the Oslo process organized a fifth anniversary
celebration of the Oslo process at the same hotel in the Norwegian capital where
the Oslo accords were signed. Our agency brought the videos of Arafat's speeches
for the Norwegian media to witness, where Arafat called for Israel's
destruction, while the Oslo negotiations were indeed taking place.
I called Kristiansen to ask him if he would be kind enough to present these
videos to the Norwegian media, and to translate Arafat's words into Norwegian
for the local press. Kristiansen did exactly that, and met with the leading
lights of the Norwegian media for more than three hours, and translated Arafat's
incitement - which had never been exposed before for the local Norwegian press.
And Kristiansen did this with Arafat sitting less than 30 feet away in an
adjacent meeting room.
Even more interesting was the scoop that Kristiansen gave to the Norwegian
press, which was that the "declaration of principles" which formed the basis of
the Oslo accords which had been hammered out in Olso on that spot throughout the
summer of 1998 was never even ratified by the PLO.
The third encounter that I had with Kristiansen occurred after our news agency
had discovered from the publicly available records of the Peres Center for Peace
that the Peres Center had provided Norwegian politician Terye Larsen and his
wife with a $100,000 prize, just before Larsen became appointed as the chief UN
Kristiansen read about this gratuity and stated to a Norwegian TV station that
Peres had promised remuneration to Larsen in order to ensure that he would
share the Nobel Peace Prize with the late Prime Minister Rabin. Indeed, Larsen
became the international chairman of the Peres Center for Peace, a position
which he held until assuming responsibilities at the UN.
I called Kristiansen and he was quite explicit in affirming that he witnessed
the deal that was made between Peres and Larsen to assure Larsen that he would
be "well rewarded for his efforts".
Last year, following Arafat's death, Kristiansen warned about great hopes with
Abbas, Arafat's successor, saying that " the current optimistic view on the part
of the majority in the Knesset regarding "new" positive attitudes among the
Palestinians is a deja vu repetition of the most complete failure of the
Middle East conflict, the so-called "Oslo Agreement".
On August 18th of this year, Kristiansen was invited to a dinner party sponsored
by the Israeli government which took place at the end of the week when Israel
forcibly expelled 10,,000 Jews from their homes in Katif and Northen Samaria.
Kristiansen declined the invitation, saying that " The Israel Government
expulsion of Gush Katif Jews is not an internal Israeli affair. It is everyone's
affair. This expulsion is an immoral and illegal act violating international
ethical, human, legal and social rights. This reality was affirmed by Israel
Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy in his dissenting opinion opposing the Gush
Katif expulsion and by University of Sydney Professor of International Law
Julius Stone of blessed memory".
In his letter to the Israeli ambassador in Oslo, Kristiansen wrote that
"Being neither an Israeli citizen nor a Jew, I have been reluctant to
express my opinions publicly in a situation where the expression of such
opinions might be interpreted as foreign meddling in internal Israeli
affairs. My excuse is love for Israel. Over a decade ago, I protested as
immoral the Nobel Prize Committee awarding a "peace" prize to Yasser Arafat
in December, 1994, and resigned from the Nobel Prize Committee as an
expression of that protest then. Over a decade later, I protest as immoral
the illegal Israel Government expulsion of the Gush Katif Jews today".
No one from the government of Israel has ever expressed its appreciation to
Kaare Kristiansen for the warnings that he gave Israel concerning the nature of
This week would be therefore be an appropriate time to do so, as a gentile hero
who is being rought this week for burial.