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Prime minister urges Israel to stop building new settlements

Thursday 19 January 2012

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte on Thursday urged Israel to stop building new settlements in order to kick-start the Middle East peace protest.

Rutte made the comments to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is on a two-day visit to the Netherlands.

A construction freeze would be 'extremely beneficial' for the discussions, Rutte said, before going on to plead for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu denied the settlements are being expanded, arguing that building is only continuing in areas that have already been settled, news agency Novum reported.


The official aim of the visit, the first by an Israeli prime minister in 15 years, is to cement the relationship between the countries. The Netherlands is widely regarded as one of Israel's biggest supporters.

A close relationship with Israel is central to the minority government’s foreign policy and Israel is the only country to be named in the coalition agreement.

The Netherlands has a history of being a major supporter of Israel. It was one of five countries to veto Palestinian membership of Unesco. Last September, magazine Spiegel claimed the EU was unable to reach a common position on the Middle East conflict because of the Netherlands' pro-Israel stance.


Earlier on Thursday, Netanyahu also held meetings with parliamentary leaders and MPs.

In particular, left-wing MPs were critical of Israel, with Socialist MP Harry Bommel accusing Netanyahu of 'standing in the way of the peace process' in the Middle East, Nos television said.

But Gerard van Roon, MP for the anti-Islam PVV said Israel should continue on its present path and keep building new settlements in the West Bank, Nos said.


Meanwhile, economic affairs minister Maxime Verhagen has announced that the Netherlands is sending a trade mission to Israel later this year. Dutch exports to Israel total some €1bn on an annual basis, mainly electrical equipment and cars.

The Netherlands, in turn, is Israel's second biggest European export destination, importing goods to the value of €2.1bn, largely medicine, computers, fruit and vegetables, the ministry said.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

I agree with Gerard van Roon and think everyone in the free world should be supporting Israel.

It seems almost fashionable to denounce Israel and anyone who dares support a western culture but if you dig a bit deeper you'll see that Israel actually treats palestinians better that neighbouring Jordon.

By Phil | 20 January 2012 3:49 AM

@Phil: The Palestinians aren't zoo animals whose only concern is whether they're treated well. They're a people with a culture and a history. They used to have a homeland as well and they'd like that homeland back before Israel turns it into a giant housing estate reserved exclusively for Israelis. And in that wish they have the full support of international law.

By John | 20 January 2012 9:28 AM

Phil...I beg your pardon?
Did you actually ask the Palestinians how they feel about this?
Any government doing wrong should be denounced..I do not care what it is (Western, Eastern...from Mars, Mercury or Earth).

By Saladin | 20 January 2012 9:42 AM

Totally Agree with Phil. In Tel Aviv itself you will see lots of palestines who are doing much better than in west bank, etc. Whereas if you have to go to Bethelham, you have to go thru so much of ordeal as that is controlled by palestines.

By Roi | 20 January 2012 9:48 AM

There is a huge similarity between the Israel's behavior and anti-Islam PVV's beliefs. That's why they have been always supporting each other.

By Justice | 20 January 2012 10:24 AM

@phil: it's not just in Jordon that Palestinians are treated abysmally but in each of the other Arab countries as well. In Lebanon they keep Palestinians locked up in prison like camps without rights to work or their children to be educated; makes one question the sincerity of the Arab worlds Palistinian cause célèbre.

By Quince | 20 January 2012 4:11 PM

The problem with this issue is that it's SO polarizing. You almost NEVER hear someone say, "Well this is why Isreal has a point, BUT this is why Palestine has a point...". No one seems to want to see both sides of the story - you're either on one side or the other. The sooner we can get people to break out of this and actually consider the other side of the argument, the better.

By Stupid | 20 January 2012 4:56 PM

THE stopping settlement building did not kick start the negotiation before. Why would anybody think it would now? Absurd.

By Derek Robert | 21 January 2012 12:39 PM

So Phil, next week I'll come to your house and kick you out claiming that my ancestors lived there 3000 years ago. Moreover, I'll bring all my biggest friends to help me. I am sure you will not make any complaint and leave quietly.
Please let's stop playing victims ok? Israel holds nuclear power and is tens of times stronger than his opponent!
People should think a bit more deeply before just saying the first thing that comes to their mind...

By Andy | 22 January 2012 3:37 PM

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