Tuesday, 13 May 2014

President Peres on controversial state visit to Norway

President Shimon Peres of Israel is currently on a two day state visit to Norway, which has, unsurprisingly, caused some controversy because of the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and related issues. The fact that Prime Minister Erna Solberg and all other officials in order to please the Chinese dictatorship refused to meet another former Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the Dalai Lama, during his visit to Norway last week has added to the controversy.
State visits are decided by the government, so it is the current coalition of the Conservative Party and the far right-wing Progress Party that has initiated this state visit, but the fact that state visits are officially on the invitiation of the King, who plays host, has seen some criticise the King for receiving President Peres, while others have been deluded into believing that the state visit means that the King supports and endorses Israel. Both views are obviously nonsense, as the King, as a constitutional monarch, is bound by the government's decision in such matters.
The King yesterday hosted a state banquet at the Royal Palace (for which President Peres made the odd choice of wearing a starched white shirt and a white bow tie with an ordinary grey suit), while the governments holds a dinner at Akershus Castle tonight. The President, who is ninety years old and will retire next month, have also called on the Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament. Having shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with the late Yitzhak Rabin and the late Yassir Arafat, President Peres also gave a lecture at the Nobel Institute.
Strangely the Queen, who was until the start of the state visit yesterday listed as attending all events, is not present during the state visit, which the Palace explains with her being on a "longer, planned foreign trip". As no such foreign trip is listed this must be a private visit and it seems odd that the Queen, who is known to be duty conscious and has never missed a state visit before, should be on a private holiday during an incoming state visit. Nevertheless her absence left the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and Princess Astrid to do the honours together with the King.

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