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Norwegian Ambassador's home in Israel bugged

By AMIR MIZROCH AND YAAKOV KATZ

01/20/04: ( Jerusalem Post) Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was informed of a recent meeting between PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and opposition leader Shimon Peres at the home of the Norwegian ambassador via the use of electronic listening devices, Norwegian media reported Tuesday. 

“The Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon knew all the details of a secret meeting at home of Mona Juul, the Norwegian ambassador in Israel,” Norway’s TV 2 reported on its ‘Nettavisen’ website Tuesday. 

Norway’s ambassador to Israel, Mona Juul, declined comment to the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday night. 

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Irit Stopper told the 'Post that reports the ambassador’s house was bugged were “complete rubbish”. 

Sharon leaked the fact of the secret meeting to members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday, prompting claims by Peres that he had "exploited intelligence information for political purposes." 

The Norway Post reported that Juul, had arranged the secret meeting between Peres and Qurei. 

Acting Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman Eirik Bergesen told the Jerusalem Post that Norwegian authorities have “no evidence that it has to do with espionage.” 

“We have no reason to conclude that the Norwegian ambassador’s home was bugged,” Bergesen said. “Its possible that the reports [of the meeting] came from those who entered and came out.” 

MK Peres expressed his outrage to Sharon in a pre-planned meeting at the Knesset, and the Labor party has called for an independent probe of the incident. 

"It is unthinkable that in a democratic regime, the prime minister takes advantage of intelligence information to help him politically and to create an impression that my meetings with PA officials are illegal," Peres reportedly told Sharon. "What happened is unprecedented and I will not tolerate it." 

TV 2 quoted a Norwegian paper VG as saying that Karsten Klepsvik, press officer at the Norwegian Foreign Affairs Department, did not want to immediately conclude that the Norwegian ambassador’s house was being bugged. 

“It is possible to see who goes in and out of the building,” Klepsvik said to the paper. “There is a high security level in Israel, so this does not have to mean anything.” 

Former Norwegian ambassadors in Tel Aviv have said that they take it for granted that the building in Herzliya is under surveillance, TV 2 reported. 

“I must be allowed to say what I want in my own house”, said one Norwegian ambassador some years back as he was studying the sealing for microphones, according to the Norwegian news bureau. 

Sharon also complained about another meeting among Erekat, Labor MK Haim Ramon, and Meretz leadership candidate Yossi Beilin at the home of US Ambassador Dan Kurtzer. Sharon said that in that meeting Ramon said "terrible things" about him. 

© 1995 - 2004 The Jerusalem Post
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