(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) withdrew its support from an
October trip of Israeli mayors to Holland after it learned that settler council
heads were among the group’s participants.
to be reimbursed for EU tariffsEU calls for
extension in settlement building moratorium
In a letter sent out on
Thursday, the association said that the Union of Local Authorities, which had
helped organize the trip, had not initially provided information regarding the
list of participants when it requested organizational support.
you are well aware that the composition proposed is controversial, which places
VNG in a very delicate position vis-a-vis different stake holders,” the
association said in a letter.
It added that it had informed the Dutch
Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Embassy in Holland of its decision. The
Association could not be reached for comment.
The Union of Local
Authorities and settler leaders publicly attacked the decision on Sunday.
Although the letter never explicitly stated an objection to “settlers,” Israelis
told The Jerusalem Post that this was in fact the issue.
With this move,
“Holland has not helped peace in the region,” Local Authorities head Shlomo
Buhbut said in a letter he sent to the Dutch ambassador to Israel
In a conversation with the Post he further alleged that the Dutch
Foreign Ministry had pressured the Association to withdraw its support from the
trip, which he said, was organized under the auspices of the Joint Distribution
Settler leaders such as Efrat Council head Oded Revivi and Avi
Naim of the Beit Aryeh-Ofarim Regional Council, who had planned to travel to the
Netherlands, noted that the group was composed of a variety of the country’s
leaders including Israeli Arabs.
“They can have what ever opinion they
want about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but declaring that some [Israeli]
mayors are not acceptable guests is disturbing,” said Revivi.
of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip said in response that
“friends do not boycott friends.” It added that Israel’s response should be,
“we’re fighting together against radical Islam. Strengthen us, do not boycott
The council also posted a list of the Dutch parliamentarians’ e-mail
addresses to encourage the public to send them letters in protest of the
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday that the
decision by VNG not to set up meetings for their Israeli counterparts because of
the presence of heads of settlement councils underscored the problem with the
government’s settlement construction moratorium.
“I think that this only
proves how the freeze was not right, because a continuation of the freeze only
gives legitimization to boycotts that perhaps start with the heads of
municipalities in Judea and Samaria, and then extends to boycotts of products
from Judea and Samaria, and then will reach boycotts against all Israeli
municipality heads and Israeli products,” Lieberman said in an Army Radio
Lieberman stressed that the decision was not made by the Dutch
government, but rather by the association of municipalities which is an
A Foreign Ministry spokesman added that the Dutch
authorities never said the delegation could not come, or that no one would meet
with it – only that the local council body would not arrange
“The foreign minister of Holland is a big friend of Israel, and
we have constant contact with him,” Lieberman said of his Dutch colleague,
Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen. “The local authority organization is an
independent body that is not subordinate to the Foreign Ministry,” he
A spokesman for the Dutch Embassy in Tel Aviv confirmed that the
decision was made by VNG, and was not a federal government decision. The
spokesman said the Dutch government “respects” the decision of that
said that Dutch policy on the settlements is in line with that of the
Last Thursday, after a meeting of EU heads of state, the EU put out a
declaration saying that “The European Union recalls that settlements are
under international law and calls for an extension of the moratorium