Iceland took the historic step of being the first country in western Europe to recognise the state of Palestine, much to the joy of Palestinians living here. Of the 63 members of Icelandic parliament, 12 were not present for the vote, 38 voted in favour of recognising the state, and 13 members of the Independence Party abstained from voting. There were no votes against. RÚV reports that there was much celebration of the event, with Palestinians seated in the parliamentary gallery during the historic vote. Minister of Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphéðinsson said that he hopes that Iceland taking this step will “serve as an example, to other Nordic countries, for example, to support Palestine as sovereign, independent state”. He has said he intends to speak to other Scandinavian leaders to encourage them to do just that. Iceland is far from alone when it comes to countries in the world that do recognise Palestine. Nations representing some 80% of the world’s population already do, but Iceland is the first country in western Europe to take this step.
Iceland’s government intends to increase funding to reforestation efforts around the country. RÚV reports that while recent years have seen government cuts to Iceland’s national reforestation efforts, Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson wants to reverse that trend. The minister points out that even as demand for timber is growing, successive cuts over the years have made many tree planters worried about the impact the demand will have on Iceland’s forests. “The government has a plan to increase reforestation and revegetation for, amongst other reasons, the trapping of carbon dioxide,” Sigurður told reporters. “I expect that
One of Iceland’s captains of the tourist industry has proposed that tourism be given its own ministerial jurisdiction. MBL reports that Ásbjörn Björgvinsson, the director of the Icelandic Tourism Association, believes the time has come for the Icelandic government to devote at least part of a ministry to what is already a major revenue-generator for Iceland. “One of the things that the Icelandic Tourism Association has pushed for is that Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir be given the title Minister of Tourism, not just the Minister of Industry and Commerce,” the title she current holds, he told reporters. Ásbjörn believes the title
Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson drew harsh criticism for remarks he made about an impending vote of no confidence against Interior Minister Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir. The Pirate Party announced earlier this week that they were considering submitting a vote of no confidence against Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir. They contend that her refusal to step down during police investigations of her ministry, amongst other things, has ruined the credibility of the ministry itself. Yesterday, Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson told MBL that he believes Hanna Birna has acted appropriately throughout the matter, adding that he questioned the premise
A whole new angle on the ever-brewing Ministry of the Interior scandal came to light when it was reported that Interior Minister Hanna Birna had contacted then-Commissioner of the Capital Area Police Stefán Eiríksson, in person and by phone, in part to ask if police could be trusted with ministry files, and when their investigations would end. Cue media maelstrom, replete with Parliamentary Ombudsman Tryggvi Gunnarsson formally requesting the minister explain herself. At the time of writing, the Ombudsman is still waiting for a final answer from Hanna Birna, who had until August 15 to respond. Former Prime Minister Geir
New research shows an increasing number of bats in Iceland, most likely arriving via cargo ships. The research, published in the journal Acta Chiropterologica under the title “A Review of the Occurrence of Bats (Chiroptera) on Islands in the North East Atlantic and on North Sea Installations”, placed primary focus on newly discovered species of bats in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, the Shetland Islands, the Orkney Islands, and North Sea installations. Vísir reports that 40 separate bat sightings have been recorded in Iceland in 2012. Most of these bats were found in southwest Iceland, especially in the capital area. It
A new Icelandic car-sharing company is letting people rent their cars out to others, or rent a car from others themselves. The company in question, Caritas, allows registered users to advertise their car for rent, at rates the car owner sets themselves. Other users can log on to look for a car that meets their travel needs and their budget. The idea is not a new one, and company co-founder Vignir Már Lýðsson told MBL that Caritas’ model is based on foreign companies offering the same service. Amongst these companies are Relay Rides and easyCar. RelayRides recently came under scrutiny