New cabinet takes different approach to Middle East policy

The new cabinet will switch strategies in terms of contributing to the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian territories, new foreign minister Frans Timmermans told Nos television on Friday.

The new coalition agreement states ‘where possible, the Netherlands will contribute to peace and stability in the Middle East, using its good links with both Israel and the
Palestinian Authority’.
The previous coalition agreement only spoke of investing in links with Israel, without mentioning Palestine, a position which led to the Netherlands being isolated in Europe at times.
European policy
The pro-Israel policy was largely at the behest of Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam PVV whose party propped up the outgoing minority coalition.
For example, earlier this year, the Netherlands was the only EU country to refuse to approve an EU report on the violence used by Israeli settlers against local Palestinians.
Last September, outgoing foreign minister Uri Rosenthal also reportedly managed to stop European diplomats at the UN reaching a common position on the status of human rights in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
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