Holland takes tough stance against Iran

‘The Iranian threat to annihilate 6 million Jews is an Auschwitz in the making,’ Party of Freedom official says.

November 20, 2011 05:20
Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor

Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor 311 Reu. (photo credit: Raheb Homavandi / Reuters)

BERLIN – A parliamentary resolution last week against Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons contributed to the Dutch Foreign Ministry embracing what appears to be the strongest European position toward ratcheting up the pressure on Tehran’s leaders.

Wim Kortenoeven, a deputy from the Party for Freedom, told The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview from The Hague on Friday that his party had worked to pass a potent measure.

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“Now for the practical execution of our resolution, which was unanimously supported in parliament. The foreign minister should be in the forefront of demanding the most forceful sanctions. And he is doing that. There is still a window of opportunity. There seems to be a willingness in Europe to go far in the sanctions and even to follow the initiatives of the US Congress.

But at the same time there seems to be a reluctance on the part of the US government where it concerns targeting the Iranian Central Bank. And boycotting that entity is probably the key for our success,” Kortenoeven said.

Kortenoeven, 56, one of Europe’s most prominent advocates for Israel’s security, spearheaded the passage of the parliamentary resolution.

According to the text, “the Islamic Republic of Iran violates the NPT and the IAEA suspects Iran of illegally developing nuclear weapons and illegal ballistic delivery systems.”

The resolution urges that “fast-working and effective sanctions must be imposed in order to force Iran to abandon the illegal nuclear program and open up completely to the IAEA,” and, “ultimate means should be used, if necessary, so as to prevent the need for military intervention.”

The resolution states that “measures should hurt the Iranian regime in its heart in order to compel them to compliance,” and, “calls on the [Dutch] government to take the lead with European and American allies in order to impose swift and effective sanctions.”

The Dutch resolution appears to be the only European legislative motion to slam Iran after the International Atomic Energy Agency report confirmed that Tehran is developing nuclear weapons designs.

The Party for Freedom plays the role of kingmaker in the Dutch coalition government, with the governing parties needing its support.

Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal, from the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), issued the strongest statement at EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday.

When asked about military intervention, Rosenthal said, “I don’t exclude anything.

Now is not the moment to say anything else.”

The Dutch resolution, a product of political compromise in the parliament, did not meet all of Kortenoeven’s goals.

“Our proposal to cut the diplomatic ties with Tehran, however, was rejected by all other parties. We reasoned that the regime in Tehran is for all practical purposes a terrorist organization and that their threat to annihilate the Jewish state is in fact an ultimate terrorist act.

And since we do not have contact with Hamas and with Hezbollah, them being terrorist organizations, we should also cut ties with the ayatollahs,” he said.

Kortenoeven is a leading expert on the Middle East and has garnered an international reputation for his analysis on the region.

His party’s leader, Geert Wilders, advocates a tough approach to radical Islam in the Netherlands, including restrictions on immigration.

The Party for Freedom has prioritized Israel’s security interests and sees combating extremist Islam as integral to defending Israel and Western liberal values.

Kortenoeven told the Post, “My party, the Party for Freedom, will never let Israel down. We will never let down the Jewish State of Israel. We will also support Israel when they exercise their legitimate right to self-defense.

In the debate I repeated it three times: My party will never abandon Israel. We support it unconditionally and with whatever it takes. The Iranian threat to annihilate six million Jews is a moral call to us. It is an Auschwitz in the making. We take this threat seriously. History forces us to do that. It happened before and the West did nothing to stop it.”

He continued, “In the debate, I referred to the ships that were crossing oceans and seas, filled with Jews trying to escape the Nazis, but ending up in Hamburg or being torpedoed in the Black See. The St. Louis and the Struma. Perhaps I also should have referred to the Evian Conference of 1938.

There the free West effectively turned its back on the Jews, making nice statements but offering nothing substantial to save them, and bluntly refusing to go to the hilt in stopping the Nazi menace.

The similarity is very disturbing and very real.”

According to Kortenoeven, “Supporting Israel now is a moral obligation. But it is also in our own best interest, as the Iranian threat is also extending to the rest of the free and liberal West.

“These terrible things may start with the Jews, but they never end with the Jews. The Jewish people and the State of Israel are the canary in the coal mine. That is also a lesson of history.”

Kortenoeven twice worked in a kibbutz: in 1976 in Nahshon and in 1981 in Matzuva.

In an e-mail to the Post on Friday, Yochanan Visser, an expert on Dutch-Israeli relations – who made aliya from the Netherlands in 2000 – wrote, “Now, it is good that Dutch FM Rosenthal said that the military option is still on the table, during the EU meeting last Monday.”

Visser, the head of the Missing Peace NGO, said “the Dutch government should take the lead in the EU. That can be done by pushing for a military buildup in the Persian Gulf by EU NATO countries and by giving the example in the sanctions regime by cutting all ties with Iran.”

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