Biggest Dutch water board pulls out of Israeli deal, citing international law

Israel has described the decision by Dutch water authority Vitens to pull out of a deal with Israeli firm Mekorot as ‘absurd’, Nos television said on Wednesday.

Vitens signed the alliance with Mekorot two months ago but said on Tuesday it is pulling out of the deal.

The company said in a statement it now concluded that the issue is politically sensitive. ‘Vitens places great store in integrity and adhering to national and international laws,’ the statement said, adding that the Mekorot project cannot be seen in isolation from the political context.

Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, is involved in supplying water to the Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank.

Common sense

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told the Jerusalem Post that the Palestinians will cooperate with Mekorot, while the Dutch firm will not. ‘What we see here is an urgent need for a little common sense,’ he said.

‘It is more than strange that this Dutch company should boycott an Israel peer that works with the World Bank on a very important regional cooperation project, which includes the Jordanians and Palestinians.’

In the Dutch parliament, MPs from the right-wing VVD and PVV and small religious parties called on foreign affairs minister Frans Timmermans to explain events.A planned visit by aid minister Lilian Ploumen to Mekorot last weekend was cancelled because of the political sensitivities, Nos television said.

In September Dutch civil engineering group HaskoningDHV pulled out of a project to develop a waste water treatment plant in Jerusalem after the foreign ministry said it could conflict with international law.

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