GroenLinks MP Kauthar Bouchallikht has withdrawn as a candidate for the November 22 in protest at her party’s stance on the upsurge of violence in Israel and Gaza.
Several members of GroenLinks and Labour (PvdA), who are running a combined list of candidates, criticised the initial response of leader Frans Timmermans for condemning the attacks by Hamas without expressing concern for the Palestinian people.
Timmermans attempted to defuse the situation at the party’s pre-election conference at the weekend, when he said international humanitarian law must be respected.
“That means that Palestinian citizens in Gaza must not be collectively punished,” he said.
The conference passed a carefully drafted motion condemning both the “appalling attack” by Hamas and Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, which has led to 2,670 deaths in eight days, according to local officials.
But it was too late to sway Bouchallikht, who said the lack of “context” in her party’s statements had prompted her decision to resign.
“This ‘war’ hasn’t suddenly begun, it’s been going on for 75 years,” she said. “And that context was conspicuously missing from last week’s statements, including those of my own party.”
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“Context doesn’t mean denying the dreadful acts of Hamas last week,” she wrote. “Context is recognising where they came from, namely the actions of the Israeli government, which goes against the wishes of many Israelis and Jewish people.”
The conflict in Israel and Palestine is a sensitive issue for members of the two centre-left parties, particularly GroenLinks. Bouchallikht , 29, was elected to parliament in 2021 after winning enough preference votes to promote her on the party’s candidate list.
Labour MP Kati Piri said the motion passed at the weekend had been worded so that “our friends on the left in Israel and in Palestine can support it.”
Timmermans said he respected Bouchallikht’s decision and admitted he had been unable to persuade her to remain as a candidate. “She said: I can’t stand for this. I think it’s very honest of her to recognise the consequences and say: that means I can’t become an MP.”
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