Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu at Ben Gurion Airport.
(photo credit: PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to The Hague on Tuesday for two days of talks, in a country where closer bilateral ties are hobbled by a public opinion that is significantly more critical of Israeli policies than is the Dutch government.
Diplomatic officials said that the government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whom Netanyahu is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, is overall a friendly government, but unable to ignore public criticism of Israel over the Palestinian issue that has grown in recent years.
Netanyahu was last in the Netherlands in 2012, and Rutte came to Jerusalem in 2013. The visit, according to the Prime Minister’s Office, will deal both with regional issues as well as deepening bilateral relations.
Since the Palestinian issue has cast a shadow over the bilateral ties, the Dutch are looking to show the public that Israel is an important partner in many fields, one official said, and that the Netherlands benefits by maintaining strong ties.
Among the regional issues to be discussed are the French peace initiative to convene an international peace conference by the end of the year, which Israel adamantly opposes, as well as the Egyptian idea of holding a summit – either in Russia or in Egypt – between Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
In addition to meeting Rutte, Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet with King Willem-Alexander. This will be the first meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and King Willem-Alexander, who succeeded to the throne three years ago.
Netanyahu will also visit the Dutch parliament and meet with the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss, among other issues, Israel’s policy toward Europe.