Netherlands to publish new policy on pension payments to citizens living in settlements

Dutch gov't official: Cutting 35% from Holocaust survivor's pension "should have been prevented."

May 11, 2015 08:32
2 minute read.
Dov Landau, an 88-year-old Auschwitz survivor, shows his prisoner number tattooed

Dov Landau, an 88-year-old Auschwitz survivor, shows his prisoner number tattooed to people during an informal gathering commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Netherlands will not cut the pension of a Dutch Holocaust survivor living in a settlement, but will soon publish new policy directives on pension payments beyond the Green Line, a spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment clarified Monday.

The spokesman was referring to a 90-year-old woman whose sage with the Dutch pension authorities was reported on Channel 2 on Thursday night.

According to the report, the unnamed woman – who moved to Israel recently to be with her children because of the increase in anti-Semitism in Europe – received a monthly pension of about NIS 4,300.

Upon her move to Israel, that amount was cut by 35% to NIS 3,200 a month.

The woman’s son, who lives in a settlement near Modi’in, said she received a letter from the Dutch authorities informing her that the amount was deducted from her pension because she went to live on the West Bank.

The move was slammed on Monday by former Labor MK Colette Avital, the head of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, an umbrella agency representing 52 different groups seeking to promote the welfare of survivors.

“European governments can certainly take a position as it relates to Israel’s policies in the territories, but the conclusions in this regard need to be taken up with those who make the decisions in Israel,” Colette Avital said on Israel Radio.

“It is surprising and outrageous that the Dutch government, of all countries, chooses to impose sanctions against civilians who endured the Holocaust on its territory and who subsequently chose to move in with their children at an old age,” she said. “It is hard to accept such harassment of survivors, whose welfare should be sacrosanct in the eyes of the Dutch authorities.”

In response, the spokesman for the Dutch ministry dealing with the matter said that the Dutch authorities were in touch with the family involved, and that this “very unfortunate” incident “should have been prevented.”

The official said that since the woman could not have known the consequences of moving to the “occupied territories,” her pension will not be reduced.

Asked by The Jerusalem Post whether this means that other Dutch Holocaust survivors living in the settlements will have pension benefits cut, the spokesman responded: “The Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs will soon publish a modified policy. After publication, this new policy will be applied to new cases. The Dutch authorities cannot yet prejudge the exact provisions of this new policy.”

The move comes at a time of increased pressure inside the EU to take substantive steps, and not only issue declarations, to register its displeasure with Israel’s settlement policy.

Last month some 16 foreign ministers, including the Dutch foreign minister, signed a letter to EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini urging her to move swiftly to ensure the labeling of settlement products.

In early 2014 the Netherlands largest pension management company decided to withdraw its investments from Israeli banks because they had branches in the settlements, and in late 2013 the Dutch water giant Vitens declared it was stopping cooperation with Israel’s water carrier Mekorot because of alleged infractions of international law regarding the settlements.

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