Monday 20 September 2021

Israel summons Dutch ambassador as Vitens row intensifies

Israel has summoned the Dutch ambassador to protest at what it says are ‘ambiguous’ statements by the Dutch foreign ministry following the decision by water company Vitens to pull out of a local deal.

Vitens, which is owned by Dutch local authorities, earlier this week cancelled its agreement to work with Israeli water corporation Mekorot, citing possible violations of international law.

Israel told the ambassador that unclear language by the foreign ministry about doing business with Israeli firms is ‘feeding a pro-boycott environment’, the Jerusalem Post reported.

And Israel’s regional cooperation minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Radio Vitens claimed to have been under heavy political pressure from Dutch MPs and Amnesty International, the Jerusalem Post said.

Denial

But Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans on Thursday denied he had put pressure on Vitens to pull out.

While the government does discourage doing bsuiness with companies which are active in the Occupied Territories, the foreign ministry had no objection to the alliance between the Dutch company and Mekorot, website nu.nl quoted the ministry as saying.

‘That is what we told Vitens. The fact that Vitens has taken a decision is entirely up to it and cannot be attributed to the cabinet,’ the minister told parliament.

MPs have asked the minister to clarify the situation in parliament.

 

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