Palestinian civil society calls on Dutch government to respect its obligations under international law by excluding relations with Israeli companies involved in settlements
- Dutch government must consistently exclude all Israeli and other companies involved in Israel’s settlements from Israel-Netherlands business forum
- Governments across the world should take steps to end corporate complicity with Israeli violations of international law
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition of Palestinian civil society unions, parties and organisations, calls on the Dutch government to be consistent with its stated position opposing the Israeli occupation and illegal settlements by ending all relations with companies – Dutch, Israeli or other – that are involved in this occupation and particularly in settlements.
While reiterating our position that all economic relations between the Netherlands and Israel help to perpetuate its regime of occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people, we specifically call on the Dutch government to, at the very least, exclude Israeli companies with operations in illegal settlements from the upcoming Netherlands-Israel Cooperation Forum.
As PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi has stated: “The official policy of the Dutch government is to discourage economic relations of Dutch companies with settlements. How can the Dutch government establish a cooperation forum with Israel which facilitates these relations and effectively supports the settlement economy?”
One proposed participant in the Netherlands-Israel Cooperation Forum, Mekorot, participates directly in the illegal appropriation of Palestinian water and has extensive operations in illegal Israeli settlements. We therefore call on Lillianne Ploumen, the Dutch minister for Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, to cancel her proposed meeting with Mekorot.
Another participant, Magal S3, provides security systems along 150km of Israel’s illegal Wall and provides equipment to at least 8 illegal Israeli settlements. Many of the other proposed Israeli participants export goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements.
We urge the Dutch government to respect its obligations under international law and to fully and consistently implement its stated policy of discouraging economic relations with illegal Israeli settlements by ensuring that the upcoming business forum will not result in furthering or giving cover to cooperation between Dutch companies and Israeli businesses with illegal operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
In a written statement to Parliament in May 2013, the Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans indicated that the Dutch government discourages financial relationships with illegal Israeli settlements. He said:
“Although not prohibited, economic relations between Dutch companies and companies in the settlements in the occupied territories are discouraged by the Dutch government.”
The Dutch government has since reiterated its position and put it into action by discouraging engineering firm Royal Haskoning DHV from participating in a sewage treatment project with the Israeli municipality in occupied East Jerusalem. The company heeded the Dutch government’s advice and withdrew from the project.
We welcome these positions and urge the Dutch government to uphold its policy of discouraging financial relationships with illegal Israeli settlements.
Palestinian civil society urges other governments across the world to meet their legal obligation to refrain from providing assistance in maintaining the illegal situation that has resulted from Israel’s occupation by prohibiting all economic relations with Israeli companies and entities that operate in illegal Israeli settlements or otherwise profit from the occupation. As a first step, governments should take similar steps to those currently being implemented by the Dutch government.
Palestinians living in the West Bank live under a brutal occupation and are governed by Israeli military law, while illegal settlers receive generous state subsidies and are governed by Israeli civilian law. Palestinians in Gaza live under a medieval siege, a form of collective punishment that remains a stain on the conscience of the world. Inside Israel, the Palestinians that make up 20% of the population face systematic discrimination – there are more than 50 laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
While we welcome the steps that European and other governments are slowly starting to take to end some aspects of their complicity with Israel’s persistent violations of international law, we also wish to remind those governments that Israel continues to implement new apartheid policies and forcibly displace Palestinians from their land, as evidenced in the Prawer Plan. For how much longer will European governments stand by while these grave Israeli violations of international law are implemented before they consider suspending all cooperation with Israel, as was done against apartheid South Africa?
Palestinian BDS National Committee