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Norway leaders divided over Israel boycott

Jan. 5, 2006 at 8:49 PM

OSLO, Norway, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Norwegian Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen is backing a planned consumer boycott of Israeli goods, contradicting her government's policy.

The BBC reported Thursday that Halvorsen voiced support for a campaign of solidarity with the Palestinians, due to be launched by her Socialist Left party this month.

"It is a long time since I bought any Israeli products," she told Norway's Dagbladet newspaper, in an interview that took place before Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke on Wednesday.

Norway's foreign ministry said the boycott did not represent government policy. Halvorsen agreed, insisting she was expressing her party's view, not her government's. She added that she would not front the campaign.

Halvorsen's party is a minority partner in a three-party coalition formed after elections in September, along with the Labor Party and Center Party.

Finance ministry spokesman Runar Malkenes told the BBC News Web site "there are no moves to push for a boycott of Israeli goods" at the government level.

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