Behind the Oslo Back Channel: Norway's Political Past in the Middle East

Led by Hilde Henriksen Waage

Jan 2000 – Dec 2001

The signing of the Oslo Agreement in 1993 signified that Norway had become an important player in secret diplomacy. Norwegian participants had contributed decisively to the first serious attempt at making peace in the Middle East since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, an achievement far out of proportion to Norway’s otherwise modest weight in international politics.

To date, analyses of the Oslo Process have focused primarily on the individual actors involved. Scant attention has been paid to Norway’s historical relationship to the State of Israel and to the conflict in the Middle East. A central hypothesis in this project is, however, that certain aspects of that past can help to explain Norway’s role in the Oslo Back Channel. Although the three-year project focuses on the whole postwar period, special emphasis will be placed on the period after the 1973 War, to see whether Norwegian Middle East policy shifted in a more pro-Palestinian direction or whether this shift took place merely on the rhetorical level.

This project started in 1998 and will be concluded in 2001. A subproject (‘The Road to Oslo: A Pre-study’) will evaluate the Norwegian role prior to the Oslo Peace Process. This part of the project is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and will be finished in spring 2000. The main project will result in the publication of a scholarly article early in 2000 and a book in 2002.

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