Norway, Unifil Argue Responsibility over Remarks by Norwegian Colonel

Norway and the United Nations are bickering over who has the responsibility to deal with a slur against Israel, made by a Norwegian officer attached to the United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.

The Norwegian ambassador to Israel, Torleiv Anda, called at the Foreign Ministry Tuesday morning to dissociate his government from remarks by Col. Jan Carlsson, commander of the Norwegian battalion of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

Carlsson publicly likened the behavior of the Israel Defense Force in southern Lebanon to that of the Nazi occupiers of Norway in World War II.

Anda said the Norwegian component of UNIFIL is under UNIFIL discipline and is not controlled by the Oslo government.

But that statement was flatly denied by UNIFIL headquarters in Nakoura.

When IDF officers complained, the commander of UNIFIL, Gen. Volgran of Sweden, told them that U.N. regulations gave him no authority to discipline Carlsson.

But a statement in Oslo said “the Norwegian government will not take any disciplinary measures against the officer.

“The matter is totally in the hands of the UNIFIL headquarters.”

Furthermore, the statement said, “We have reservations about the remarks, made by the battalion commander, but one has to remember that they were said in the context of harsh deportations that were taking place before his eyes.”

The reference was to the forced evacuation of villagers from Shaba in the eastern sector of the southern Lebanon security zone.

About 70 villagers have been expelled into Lebanon proper by the Israel-backed South Lebanon Army, acting on orders of the IDF.

Carlsson told a group of Israeli and foreign officers that the expulsions were inhumane, violated international law and were reminiscent of what the Nazis did to Jews in his native country during the war.

Media reports from Oslo Tuesday quoted Carlsson as standing by his remarks.

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