Norway has raised the status of the Palestinian representation in the Scandinavian country in recognition of efforts to build a Palestinian state, the Foreign Ministry said.
The decision was announced Wednesday during a visit by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to Norway.
Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bjoern Svenungsen said the upgrade, from "general delegation" to "diplomatic mission," would take effect early next year. He said the top Palestinian diplomat in Oslo will have the rank of an ambassador but use the title "head of the Palestinian mission."
"Upgrading of the Palestinian representation to Norway is in recognition of the efforts made by the Palestinian Authority," Svenungsen said. "In the last three years, since the donor conference in Paris in 2007, the Palestinian Authority has come a long way in laying the foundation for the establishment of a Palestinian state."
Nabil Shaath, a senior Palestinian negotiator, said three other European countries — Spain, France and Portugal — have taken similar steps recently.
"We consider this move as a step toward the full recognition of the state of Palestine in the 1967 borders," Shaath said. "It supports our rights and positions in the face of Israeli stubbornness and the impasse in the peace process."
Israel expressed its indignation over the development, and Naor Gilon, who heads the Western Europe division at the Foreign Ministry, summoned Vebjorn Dysvik, a senior official at the Norwegian embassy in Tel Aviv.
During the meeting, Gilon said the move does not contribute to the peace process. Dysvik explained that upgrading the mission's status does not constitute recognition of a Palestinian state by Norway and does not have any practical implications.
Foreign Ministry official Yossi Levy said upgrading the Palestinian mission in Oslo "supports the Palestinian illusion according to which they'll be able to achieve diplomatic success without negotiating directly with Israel."
Norway is not a member of the European Union.
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