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July 2, 2013

Dutch commission calls for freezing ties with Israel

http://www.jewishjournal.com/world/article/dutch_commission_calls_for_freezing_ties_with_israel

Logo for People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD)

Logo for People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD)

Holland’s ruling party rejected a recommendation by the country’s foreign policy advisory council to negotiate with Hamas and freeze ties with Israel over settlements.

The recommendations on Israel came in nonbinding conclusions listed in a recent report by Holland’s Advisory Council on International Affairs, or AIV, a government agency tasked by Parliament with advising on foreign policy.

Titled “Between Word and Deed, Perspectives for Sustainable Peace in the Middle East,” the 58-page report states, “As long as Israel’s actions in occupied territories do not change,” they should “lead to the freezing and limiting of [Dutch-Israeli] relations, especially in economic and military areas.”

The Netherlands is considered one of Israel’s closest allies in Western Europe.

Coauthored by a nine-man commission of Dutch scholars and Middle East experts, the AIV report says it is “desirable to negotiate with all relevant parties, including (the democratically elected) Hamas movement” and that “the Western boycott of Hamas creates additional complications in peace talks.”

The report’s introduction describes the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as between “the victims, and the victims’ victims.” The AIV says that “Israel is in fact, within the pre-1967 borders, already a binational state with an Arab minority of roughly 20 percent … The position of Premier [Benjamin] Netanyahu reveals, however, that this is a reality he is not prepared to recognize.”

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans of the Labor Party has declined to comment on the report, but the ruling center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, or VVD Party, called the document “an astonishing combination of wishful thinking and biased, unrealistic recommendations.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said the report “cannot be taken seriously.”

Wim Kortenoeven, a Middle East specialist from The Hague who analyzed the report, said it was “the malicious product of political activism, whose only objective appears to be Israel bashing.”

On Tuesday, Kortenoeven, a former lawmaker and pro-Israel activist, published on his website the first exhaustive analysis of the AIV report, which he says contains factual errors, including a reference to the nonbinding United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 on Israel — which calls on Israel to allow the return of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war — as a binding Security Council resolution.

Timmermans was scheduled to comment on the report before July 5, when Dutch Parliament goes into recess, but has not so far and declined to comment to JTA.

AIV Executive Secretary T.D.J. Oostenbrink declined JTA’s request for a comment on criticisms regarding the report.

Han ten Broeke, a senior lawmaker for the VVD ruling party, said in a statement his party was “astonished”  by the document, which ten Broeke said was “unbalanced and unfair, and makes hard demands from Israel based on international law requirements, which are not applied to the Palestinians.”

He added that the VVD had “criticism on Israel, for example on departures from the Green Line in the route of the Security Barrier,” and the detention of minors for stone throwing, “but we also certainly make demands of the Palestinian Authority.”

In a statement earlier this month, Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, called the report an “error-rich flatbed” that “cannot be taken seriously” and “engenders by logical deduction a whole set of expectedly misled and misguided analytical statements.”

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