Norway's tree gives Israel the needle
Sunday 12 December 1993
Earlier this year, it was Norway that hosted the secret talks between Israelis and Palestinians, which led to the new peace accords. Deep in the Norwegian pine forests understanding was born between old enemies.
Jogan Jorgen Holst, the Norwegian Foreign Minister, offered to send the 14ft tree to Bethlehem, to symbolise his country's role in the peace process. But bureaucrats in the Israeli Department of Agriculture have vetoed the gesture. 'One diseased tree could devastate the entire tree population in the area,' they said.
Elias Freij, the Christian mayor of Bethlehem, has asked Shimon Peres, the Foreign Minister, to intervene. 'It would have had special meaning for us,' he said. 'Norway did such an excellent job bringing peace. I don't believe they would send us an infected tree.'
Bethlehem, where 40 per cent of the population is Christian, has suffered economic hardship this year, and cannot afford lavish decorations. Since 1967 the town has been under Israeli occupation.
Christmas is celebrated under the eyes of thousands of Israeli soldiers. Once the new agreement is put into effect, Bethlehem will come under Palestinian self-rule and military forces will leave.
For now, Bethlehem is ruled by Israeli military law, so the Norwegian tree would have had to be flown in through Ben Gurion airport, and been subject to Israeli agricultural checks.
'Christmas means glory to God in the highest, and peace and goodwill to all men,' said Mayor Freij. 'This would have been a symbolic tree for us, and would have the people that peace really is coming.'
- 1 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 3 Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
- 4 Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country
- 5 Barack Obama fist bumps Texas restaurant employee in support of gay rights
Scottish independence: Scots of Corby take matters into their own hands in mock referendum - and deliver overwhelming verdict
Protesters fight to save Arturo, the polar bear sweltering in baking hot zoo
Fry ‘criticises Operation Yewtree in dinner party rant’ calling for tougher laws to deter false sex abuse allegations
Supermoon 2014 in pictures: Moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Saharan remains may be evidence of first race war, 13,000 years ago
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
Emergency data law: David Cameron plots to bring back snoopers’ charter
NUT strike: David Cameron announces crackdown on strike action ahead of mass industrial action
Not Specified: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's most progressive and innova...
£55000 - £65000 per annum: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP FICO Consultant...
£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A world leading brokerage is looking for a...
£30000 per annum: Harrington Starr: My client, a researcher of investment idea...