Rutte describes Netanyahu talks as “good but tough”


Prime minister Mark Rutte has described his talks with Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday as “good but tough”.

Rutte, on a flying visit to Tel Aviv and the West Bank, told broadcaster NOS he had reiterated the Netherlands’ support for Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas.

“But Israel has a strong military position,” he said. “So I also told him that we are extremely concerned about the access for humanitarian help in Gaza. But in the long term, you cannot imagine Israel’s survival unless the Hamas threat is removed. That is the extraordinary situation we are now in.”

“I told him, act wisely, be aware of the power that you have,” Rutte said. “And yes, realise the importance of cutting out Hamas but with minimum of victims among ordinary people…. who are just as much the victims of the terrible organisation of Hamas.

Rutte said he had emphasized the threat of regional escalation and that Israel must do all it can to prevent this. “We spoke about this for an hour, as friends,” he said.

Rutte will hold talks with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas later on Monday.

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