(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A tour of Israeli local council heads in the Netherlands was canceled by the Dutch government today, Army Radio reported. The tour was canceled due to the participation of representatives from West Bank settlements, including Oranit, Beit Ariyeh, Har Adar, and Efrat. A government source responded that the Dutch embassy in Israel had already vetted the list of invitees.
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The tour was slated to take place next month, already finalized by the local authorities in the Netherlands. However, it was reported that after the identity of the participants reached the Dutch foreign ministry, the tour was canceled. The forum, organized in coordination with the Joint Distribution Committee, was intended to be a professional tour of Holland in order to learn about public policy and working with different types of governments and local authorities.
The tour was planned and finalized by the local authorities in Holland, its details approved and the council heads requested a pre-trip meeting at the Dutch embassy. Reports said that the problems began when leading up to the meeting, embassy personnel requested a list of those traveling to Holland. They began a check into the heads of local councils from Judea and Samaria and later stating that the trip would be delayed.
The Dutch embassy contacted the local authorities in the Netherlands and explained that a tour like this was not possible because the delegation included the council heads of Har Adar, Beit Ariyeh, Oranit, Efrat, and representatives from Kiryat Arba, it was reported.
Army Radio reported that a letter circulated among the local authorities
in Holland said, "Following the exchange of ideas about visiting the
Netherlands and after internal consultations, we are backing out of the
tour based on the latest information, particularly out of fears over the
composition of the delegation. You all know that there is no doubt the
composition of the delegation is controversial."
The European Union has in the past taken similar measures against
manufacturers in the settlements, academic institutions, and
construction companies, but this was reported by Army Radio to be the
first time that the EU took a hard line with representatives of Israeli
local councils. The Foreign Ministry said that the decision was "without
doubt political, superfluous, damaging, and we hope that the last word
on the subject has not yet been said."
However, it was reported that Israeli diplomats were unable to repair
the situation. A meeting between the Israeli ambassador in Holland with
the deputy director-general of the Dutch Foreign Ministry did not change
the situation, and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon's intervention
was unable reinstate the canceled visit.