Labour clashes with cabinet over Israel

Deep divisions within the Dutch coalition government were revealed last night during a debate on the conflict between Israel and Gaza.

Labour MPs tried to gather enough support for a motion condemning Israel for using excessive violence in Gaza. But ministers again insisted that Israel’s actions in Gaza are justified. Labour is part of the three-party coalition.
But a motion from Labour MP Martijn van Dam calling on the cabinet to condemn Israel for using ‘excessive violence’ failed to win enough support.
During the debate, junior foreign minister Frans Timmermans (Labour) repeated the government’s standpoint that Israel is justified in defending itself by attacking Hamas targets in Gaza.
Timmermans, standing in for foreign minister Maxime Verhagen who is on a visit to Indonesia, told parliament that the Netherlands does not have objective information about the Israeli action.
It was, therefore, not possible to establish whether Israel is using excessive violence or not, NOS tv reported the minister as saying.
In total, MPs submitted 16 motions relating to the conflict, the NRC reports on Thursday.
The cabinet does support one motion which calls for an independent investigation into instances in which international aid organisations say excessive violence may have been used, the paper said.
The international media reports that some 1,000 Palestinians and 13 Israelis have so far been killed in the conflict.
Meanwhile, lawyer Bram Moscowicz says that 100 people have now made formal complaints about two Socialist party MPs who attended a demonstration opposing the Israeli attacks two weeks ago.
During the protest, Harry van Bommel and Sadet Karabulut called on Palestinians to take part in a new intifada, or uprising.
But during the march, some demonstrators were also reported to have chanted ‘Hamas, Hamas, Jews should be gassed’.
The MPs should have left the demonstration immediately, Moscowicz was reported as saying by news agency Novum. He has made a formal complaint against the two for encouraging hatred, discrimination and violence.
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