Dutch abstain on UN Palestine vote, critical MPs call for debate

The UN general assembly adopts the resolution. Photo: UN

Parliament will reconvene next week for an emergency debate on the Netherlands’ decision not to support a motion at the United Nations which called for a cease fire in Israel to allow humanitarian aid free passage, news agency ANP has reported.

Two parties – D66 and the SP – called for the debate after the Netherlands abstained on the Jordan-backed resolution, which passed by 120 votes to 14. In total, 45 countries abstained, including a number of other EU members.

Parliament is currently in recess for the general election campaign, and according to the NRC, it is not clear if the debate will take place.

The UN call for a ceasefire followed the heaviest night bombardment of the war so far, and the start of the ground operation.

Prime minister Mark Rutte said later the Netherlands had abstained on the vote because Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorism. “There were good things in the UN resolution but I would say as well, if Israel does not remove the threat, it will be the end of Israel,” he said.

However, a number of political parties disagreed. Socialist Party leader Lilian Marijinssen said the cabinet was cowardly, and Volt and the PvdD said the Dutch position was incomprehensible. And Jesse Klaver, leader of the GroenLinks/PvdA alliance in parliament, said the government had ignored the humanitarian catastrophe in Israel.

Acting foreign minister Hanke Bruins Slot has since published a written statement on the Dutch position. The Netherlands did not back a ceasefire because it would interfere with Israel’s right to defend itself, she said. Instead, the Netherlands  is calling for “humanitarian pauses” to allow essential goods and services to reach the people of Gaza, she said.

In addition, the call for the immediate release of all the hostages” was not high profile enough in the resolution. “We have emphasised that the Netherlands is calling on all sides to take a step back,” she said. At the same time, further civilian deaths must be avoided and the cycle of violence must end,” she said.

Rutte has also said he plans to telephone Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and ask him to allow in humanitarian aid via the border with Egypt and to stop settlers attacking Palestinians in the West Bank.

“These are two things Israel can do immediately,” he said.

A large demonstration is due to take place in The Hague on Wednesday afternoon in support of the Palestinian peoples. In Amsterdam, a march for peace will take place later in the day.

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