Published on Friday, April 5, 2002 by the BBC
Members of the Norwegian committee that awards the annual Nobel Peace Prize have
launched an unprecedented verbal assault on Israeli Foreign Minister and Nobel peace
laureate Shimon Peres.
Mr Peres accepted the peace prize jointly with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and
Israel's late prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, in 1994.
In an interview with a Norwegian newspaper, committee members said they regretted that
Mr Peres' prize could not be recalled because, as a member of the Israeli cabinet, he had
not acted to prevent Israel's re-occupation of Palestinian territory.
One member said Mr Peres had not lived up to the ideals he expressed when he accepted
'What is happening today in Palestine is grotesque and unbelievable,' said Hanna Kvanmo.
'Peres is responsible, as part of the government. He has expressed his agreement with
what [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon is doing,' she said.
'If he had not agreed with Sharon, then he would have withdrawn from the government.'
Oslo Bishop Gunnar Stalsett, a committee member for the past eight years, describes as
'absurd' what he sees as the involvement of a Nobel laureate in human rights abuses.
Other committee members argue that the Israeli government's actions in general and Mr
Peres' involvement in particular are threatening to bring the prize into disrepute.
Ms Kvanmo said however that 'at the time, it was a correct decision' to honor Peres.
'He was the one of the three that really deserved the prize, because he took the initiative
to the talks that led to the Oslo accords,' she said.
Committee chairman Geir Lundestad voiced the concern of several members that if Mr
Arafat were to be killed as a result of Israeli actions, one Nobel laureate might in effect be
said to have killed the other.