Christians in Ireland, Norway reject their governments’ ‘dangerous’ recognition of Palestinian state

Leaders say recognition will only ‘reward the barbarism of Hamas’

ICEJ Norway Rally against antisemitism. 12 May, 2024.

Following the joint press conference in Brussels, Belgium on Tuesday, where the governments of Spain, Ireland, and Norway recognized a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, Christians in Ireland and Norway criticized their respective governments’ decisions.

Christian leaders in Ireland and Norway, affiliated with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), issued statements on Tuesday rejecting their governments’ unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. They denounced the recognition as a grave mistake and a “reward for terrorism,” arguing that the move would not contribute to peace in the region.

“Christian supporters of Israel in Ireland sense a deep shame regarding the actions of our government in recognizing a state of Palestine under the present circumstances,” said Paul Coulter, national director of ICEJ-Ireland.

“Nothing has been achieved by this action except to reward the barbarism of Hamas, and we fear it will only encourage further attacks on Israel and political intransigence by Palestinian leaders. This is an extremely dangerous message to jihadists everywhere that violence pays.” 

Coulter called his government’s decision “morally bankrupt” and compared it to the Irish government’s expression of condolences following the death of Hitler in World War II. 

“We have exposed a moral bankruptcy at the heart of our Irish nation that we have not seen since our government expressed condolences to the German people on the death of Adolf Hitler in 1945,” added Coulter. “Ireland was on the wrong side of history then and we are certainly on the wrong side of history now.”

On Sunday, Coulter helped organize a rally of 1,000 supporters of Israel in front of the parliament building in Dublin to protest the decision of the Irish government to recognize a Palestinian state. 

Meanwhile, Christian leaders in Norway also spoke out against their government’s decision to recognize a Palestinian state. 

“Many Christians in Norway find this decision indefensible, extremely dangerous, and counterproductive to peace,” said ICEJ-Norway National Director Dag Øyvind Juliussen. “It is telling that Hamas – the world’s richest and most brutal terrorist organization – has praised Norway’s move.” 

Juliussen accused his government of “ignoring binding international agreements” in its decision, including the Oslo Accords which took place in Norway.

“Norway’s government has chosen to completely disrespect Israel as a fellow democracy, and ignored binding international legal agreements, including the Oslo Accords, which were grounded in the core principle that a potential Palestinian state should be the result of direct negotiations between the parties and should not be imposed unilaterally upon Israel,” he continued.

Juliussen noted that in 2012, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) published a report strongly criticizing the rise in anti-Israel attitudes in Norwegian society, warning it could lead to intolerable levels of antisemitism. At that time, surveys showed 38% of Norwegians believed that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians was analogous to Nazi conduct against Jews.

In response, the OSCE urged Norway’s Foreign Ministry leaders to “promote a civil discussion of the Middle East conflict and admonish those who, in the course of debate, would demonize the State of Israel.”

The recommendation was never followed up by government officials, and anti-Israel sentiment, especially in state-owned media, has only grown worse in Norway’s coverage of the region. 

Juliussen noted that two days after the Oct. 7 massacres by Hamas, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the king not to send condolences to Israel.

“This was so ruthless and inhumane that it is difficult to comprehend,” the Norwegian diplomat added,

ICEJ-Norway, together with several other pro-Israel organizations, led a large rally in front of the national Parliament in Oslo on May 12 “to protest the government’s chronic lack of action to combat antisemitism and rectify its unfair treatment of Israel.”