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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘mark Rutte’

Visiting Dutch Dignitaries Squabble over Israel’s Role in Gaza, PA

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Sunday visit started out fine, with a visit to Yad Vashem (with yarmulke), but then was spoiled by a major disagreement between the Dutch and Israeli premiers over a new security scanner that was to be installed with great fanfare on the Gaza border.

Rutte expected to inaugurate the scanner at the Kerem Shalom crossing, on the border with the Gaza Strip, but that’s probably not going to happen.

“Installation of the Dutch scanner, which would have been used to verify the contents of containers from Gaza destined for export, was postponed after the Netherlands made unexpected demands,” an Israeli official told AFP.

“Technically, there is no problem about the scanner at the Kerem Shalom crossing, through which goods originating in Gaza pass,” the official said, explaining: “The Dutch suddenly imposed political conditions, notably on the percentage of merchandise destined for the West Bank or abroad. These are political issues that need to be resolved at the highest level, which will delay the start-up of the scanner.”

In a lengthy, face to face conversation, Prime Minister Netanyahu told his Dutch counterpart that, as much as he would like there to be normal relations between the PA and Gaza, with goods traveling in both directions, the Arabs “sometimes use this to negative ends.”

Netanyahu gave the example of how the Hamas used too tons of cement which Israel permitted through its border with Gaza, to dig a terror tunnel into Israel, for the purpose of kidnapping Israeli civilians, to be used later in exchange with terrorist killers held in Israeli jails.

Netanyahu conceded that security considerations should not come at the expense of the civilian population in Gaza, but on occasion there’s no avoiding it.

According to Ha’aretz, the past two weeks have been marked by hectic disputes between the Netherlands and Israel over the use of the scanner the Dutch donated for use in the Gaza border crossing. Israeli security officials told the Dutch they wanted a separation between Gaza and the PA, and so the scanner must be used chiefly for goods being exported abroad, and not going to the PA.

The Dutch were making the case that the scanner was fool proof and should offer the guarantee Israel needed to accept shipments from Gaza to the PA. But the Israeli defense ministry stuck to its guns.

Prime Minister Rutte met with Israeli-Palestinian peace organizations Monday morning, and expressed his disappointment of the Israeli stubbornness.

“I don’t understand this decision,” he said. “The scanner was donated by Holland and positioned at Kerem Shalom precisely because of the Israeli security concerns.”

There was also a diplomatic spat Sunday concerning Judea and Samaria, where Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, who is traveling with Rutte, cancelled a planned event rather than accept an Israeli military escort, a Dutch foreign ministry official said.

Timmermans had planned to visit Palestinians in Hebron.

“It was the minister himself who decided to cancel that part of the visit,” Ahmed Dadou, a spokesman for Timmermans, told AFP in The Hague.

“It’s normal to be accompanied by the Israeli military in the part occupied by settlers but it’s not usual in the Palestinian part,” he said.

“Other foreign ministers have previously visited the city unaccompanied by Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian sector and Mr. Timmermans did not want to accept this new condition in order not to set a precedent.”

Netanyahu said that he had not been aware of the planned visit.

“These are not political directives,” he said, according to a statement by his office. “I do not know how we guard foreign dignitaries on visits. We have security details that do what is necessary. Minister Timmermans is a welcome guest.”

Timmermans instead visited a Palestinian dairy in another part of Hebron.

Finally an area of life a Dutchman fully comprehends.

Dutch Premier Honors Pro-Israel Activist

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Ronny Naftaniel, the former leader of Holland’s main pro-Israel lobby, was feted by the Dutch prime minister and hundreds of others.

“I grew up observing you,” Premier Mark Rutte told Naftaniel Monday at a speech at Naftaniel’s retirement party at the Hague’s Royal Theater. “Your optimism is unparalleled and as long as you maintain that courage, so shall we.”

Naftaniel led the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, for approximately 40 years. In addition to pro-Israel work, under Naftaniel the center became the country’s leading watchdog on anti-Semitism.

Also in attendance were former foreign minister Maxime Verhagen and Frits Bolkestein, an ex-European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services.

Established in the wake of the 1973 Arab oil boycott, the Hague-based center has a staff of about 10 and is considered one of Western Europe’s most active pro-Israel groups. Along with its youth division, CIDI sends dozens of Dutch and Belgian journalists, teachers and politicians on fact-finding mission to Israel annually.

Haim Divon, Israel’s ambassador to the Netherlands, said: “You are the voice of the Dutch Jewry and saying ‘thank you’ doesn’t begin to cover it.”

In interviews with Dutch media, Naftaniel said that because of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic tendencies, CIDI’s work “is unfortunately more relevant now than ever.” He added: “I found the turnout extremely impressive. Friends of Israel from all corners of the Netherlands and beyond came especially for this event and I hope it shows something about what my work has meant for the community.”

In addition to his work for Israel and against anti-Semitism, Naftaniel also had a key role in restitution talks with the Dutch government for Holocaust-era property, which yielded $500 million in compensation in the years 2000-2002.

Dutch Premier Opposes Banning Israeli Products

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

The Netherlands opposes any kind of import ban on Israeli products, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, though it must enforce European Union legislation on labeling settlement goods.

“I would like to stress that the Netherlands opposes any type of import ban or the boycott of Israeli products,” a Dutch official wrote in Rutte’s name last month to the European Jewish Congress, or EJC.

The letter, obtained by JTA, was sent to EJC President Moshe Kantor in response to Kantor’s letter to several EU heads of states, including Rutte, in which Kantor warned that labeling products from areas the European Union considers as illegal settlements was counterproductive to efforts to reach a peace settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Rutte’s letter followed reports in July that several Dutch supermarkets were boycotting “settlement goods,” though the supermarkets denied they had such a policy.

In March, the Dutch government advised business owners to refrain from labeling products from the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem as made in Israel.

A decision last year by the EU Foreign Affairs Council to label settlement goods “obliges the Dutch government to fully and effectively enforce existing EU legislation,” Rutte wrote.

The council has yet to release practical guidelines on labeling.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague struck a less conciliatory note in his reply to Kantor’s letter.

“I am afraid that I cannot agree with your concerns about EU labeling of settlement produce,” he wrote. “The settlements are illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace.”

On Sept. 16, Kantor published a full-page ad in the Financial Times of London arguing against new EU guidelines prohibiting EU funding for Israeli projects in areas the European Union considers settlements.

The ad said the guidelines singled out Israel for criticism and “serve to minimize the chances for lasting peace.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/dutch-premier-opposes-banning-israeli-products/2013/09/24/

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