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Foreign ministry summons Dutch ambassador over ‘pro-boycott atmosphere’ in Holland
By HERB KEINON
12/12/2013
Protest over "ambiguous" remarks comes day after Dutch water-giant, Vitens, axed cooperation with Israel’s water corporation.
 
The Foreign Ministry summoned Dutch Ambassador Casper Veldkamp to protest what it said were “ambiguous” statements by the Dutch Foreign Ministry creating a pro-boycott atmosphere of Israel in the Netherlands, on Wednesday.

The protest came a day after the Dutch water-giant, Vitens, canceled cooperation with Israel’s water corporation Mekorot because of alleged infractions of international law.

Veldkamp met with Rafi Schutz, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general for Europe.

Israel protested that unclear language by the Dutch Foreign Ministry about doing business with Israeli firms was feeding a pro-boycott environment in the country.

Israel said vague statements warning of possible legal problems stemming from doing business with Israeli companies working beyond the Green Line – even though there is no legal precedent for that claim – were scaring away companies, who do not want to take any chances.

A spokesperson for the Dutch foreign minister in The Hague said the ministry did not insist on the termination of the Vitens-Mekorot cooperation, and that the decision was taken by Vitens itself.

A similar problem is likely to erupt with Britain. As it too issued written guidelines last week warning businesses that economic activity in the settlements entails “legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognized as a legitimate part of Israel’s territory.”

Those contemplating any economic or financial involvement in the settlements, the guidelines read, “should seek appropriate legal advice.”

Meanwhile, Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Radio that Vitens wrote that it was compelled to break off the cooperation with Mekorot because of heavy political pressure from Dutch Parliamentarians and Amnesty International.

Shalom advised not to “blow out of proportion” the Vitens decision, saying that a recent memorandum of understanding it signed with Mekorot dealt with the exchange of information and consultations.

He said the company, which wrote that it was sorry about cutting cooperation with Mekorot, said there was heavy pressure on stock holders from parliament members and anti- Israel organizations.

Shalom said that these incidents prove hollow the claim that, whenever Israel engages in negotiations with the Palestinians the Europeans will “get off our backs.”

“We are in the middle of negotiations, but it does not stop the anti-Israel organizations from acting.

They will act even if there is peace between us and the Palestinians,” he said.

“I say to the Europeans, you cannot cry and whine all the time that you are not part of the diplomatic process, and that the US leads it alone, when you take one sided, unbalanced and sometimes even hostile polices,” he said. “You want to be part of the process? Those who want to be part of the process have to come with a balanced policy toward the conflict, and only then come and demand to be part of the process.”
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