A leaked memo from the Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv about the Israeli war in Gaza is an “unfair” and selective summary of the contents, defence minister Kasja Ollongren has said.
The foreign affairs ministry has begun an investigation into the leak and said that “not every internal communication should be seen as policy advice”. The memo was written by the embassy’s defence attache.
The memo, in the hands of the NRC, states the Israeli army “intends to deliberately cause massive destruction to infrastructure and civilian centres” in Gaza, the paper said in its report. Large numbers of civilian casualties are being taken for granted, in violation of the law of war, the paper quoted the memo as saying.
The memo also says the suggestion that two million people from Gaza could be forced to move to the Sinai desert in Egypt as “considered realistic” in some government quarters. Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the plan as “hypothetical”.
In public, the Dutch government has taken a staunchly pro-Israel line and has been criticised for abstaining on key UN votes.
Utrecht University historian Peter Malcontent told broadcaster NOS the leak of the memo was “extremely unusual”.
“This is often a difficult theme within the ministry,” he said. “Embassy staff are often opposed to the ministerial line. But this document and a recent signed letter show that the lack of unity is bigger than ever.”
Last month a group of 267 civil servants signed a letter expressing their concerns about the Netherlands unconditional support for the Israeli position.
In addition, a senior foreign affairs ministry strategist has left the service after 21 years citing “the manner in which the Netherlands condoned and even supported the genocidal actions of our ally over these past weeks”, partly by not calling for a ceasefire.
he and others had pointed out in recent years that a “de facto” one-state-apartheid reality was being ignored in Israel and even facilitated by “our work and our agenda”. She called on the government to begin investigating alternative scenarios.
MPs have now demanded a new debate about the war, although it is unclear when this will happen, given the general election next week.
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