A far-right Norwegian politician has made the unorthodox choice of Donald Trump for his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, citing the US president’s efforts to resolve conflict in the Middle East.
Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a four-term member of the Norwegian Parliament and chairman of the Norwegian delegation to the Nato Parliamentary Assembly, made the surprise nomination, Fox News reported on Wednesday.
Although the Scandinavian describes himself as economically liberal, he has courted controversy on social and cultural issues, including immigration, which he says threatens Norway’s Christian heritage.
Mr Tybring-Gjedde, who serves in the far-right Progress Party, said that Mr Trump should be considered because of his work on “a peace agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel which opens up for possible peace in the Middle East”.
The White House announced on August 13 that the two Middle Eastern states had agreed to the Abraham Accord, brokered by the United States. As part of the accord, the UAE agreed to normalise relations with Israel, while Israel would suspend plans to annex swathes of the occupied West Bank.
“As it is expected other Middle Eastern countries will follow in the footsteps of the UAE, this agreement could be a game-changer that will turn the Middle East into a region of cooperation and prosperity,” Mr Tybring-Gjedde wrote in a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Any Norwegian politician can submit a nomination for the award to the committee as long as they do so by February 1. Other Nobel prizes, such as awards in Chemistry and Physics, are nominated by Swedish lawmakers.
In his nomination letter, Mr Tybring-Gjedde also lauded Mr Trump’s withdrawal of large numbers of US troops from the Middle East.
“Indeed, Trump has broken a 39-year-old streak of American Presidents either starting a war or bringing the United States into an international armed conflict,” he said. “The last president to avoid doing so was Peace Prize laureate Jimmy Carter.”
This is not Mr Trump’s first nomination for the prestigious award, which is announced every October. Mr Tybring-Gjedde and another Norwegian lawmaker nominated the US president for the prize in 2018, for his efforts to bring peace between North and South Korea. Although Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also nominated Mr Trump – reportedly after the US leader asked him to – he did win the prize.
Mr Tybring-Gjedde told the US channel that his nomination was not trying to curry any favour with the US leader, insisting that he is “not a big Trump supporter”.
“The committee should look at the facts and judge him on the facts – not on the way he behaves sometimes,” he said. “The people who have received the Peace Prize in recent years have done much less than Donald Trump. For example, Barack Obama did nothing.”
Mr Obama was the last US leader to win the Nobel Peace Prize. He picked up the 2009 award for "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples".
Only three other US presidents have been made laureates: Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, Woodrow Wilson in 1920, and Jimmy Carter in 2002.
Although Mr Trump is unlikely to be awarded the prize, controversial winners have been announced in previous years. US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger won the accolade along with North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho in 1973 for brokering a ceasefire during the Vietnam War, despite having ordered a bombing of Hanoi during the truce talks.
In 1994, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres shared the award for their work on the Oslo Peace Accords, which did not achieve lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
The Nobel Committee has also attracted scrutiny for what some saw as glaring emissions from its list of winners. For example, Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi was nominated for the award five times, but never won. Critics have said that this is because the ceremony is overtly Eurocentric.