MONACO (JTA) — At a conference on tolerance in Europe, a former leader of Norway said that Israel was part of the problem undermining efforts to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Kjell Magne Bondevik, whose last term as Norwegian prime minister ended in 2005, singled out Pakistan, India and the Jewish state in a speech Tuesday at Cafe de Paris here during a conference on tolerance by the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation — a think tank headed by European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
“We have used wars and occupation of Muslim countries,” Bondevik, a Lutheran pastor and founder of the Oslo Center, said in prefacing his comments about nuclear proliferation. “Of course this does not excuse terrorism, but we need to be more consistent. The same can be said about nuclear proliferation, but how to approach countries like Pakistan, India and Israel? It this a double standard? We have to question ourselves, and we have to be aware that many in the Muslim world may use this as an excuse and talk of double standard in this regard.”
Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress and of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation, said that Bondevik’s observation is part of “endless talk” on this subject, which he said does not help find practical solutions.
“This attitude in which everything is seen as connected, if we continue we will never come to see the realization of our goal: practical, on-the-ground recommendations for civil society,” Kantor said at the conference in Monaco, which is titled “Tackling Extremism and Intolerance in a Diverse Society.”
In 2015, Iran and six world powers led by the United States agreed on a deal to lift international sanctions on the Islamic Republic in exchange for its dialing back of some elements of its nuclear program, which Western intelligence agencies said was aimed at achieving offensive capabilities.
Unlike Iran, India, Pakistan and Israel have not signed the 1968 U.N. Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Both southern Asian countries said they have nuclear weapons. Israel is believed to possess them as well, but it has neither denied nor confirmed this.
In a second possible reference to Israel, Bondevik also said that a main reason for “extremism is humiliation, and occupation can create the feeling of humiliation.”