PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN meets with Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARK NEYMAN / GPO)
The stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians was one of the main topics of discussion when Halbe Zijlstra, the foreign minister of the Netherlands, called on President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday.
The two men agreed that in order to resume negotiations confidence between the two sides must be restored.
They also agreed that the main obstacle toward building confidence was Hamas.
Reiterating Israel’s refusal to negotiate with Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization, Rivlin bemoaned the fact that Palestinians who 25 years ago believed that Hamas was the problem now believe that Hamas is the solution. “That’s very dangerous,” he said.
“We’re not pressing you to negotiate with Hamas,” Zijlstra assured him, but made the point that the majority of Palestinians today were born after the signing of the Oslo Accords. Since that time there has been no progress, he said, and people are losing hope, which causes them “to go the way of Hamas.”
“If we can’t provide them with hope for the future and give them hope for two states for two peoples, we will push them toward Hamas,” he warned.
Rivlin castigated the United Nations Relief and Works Agency as being a contributing factor to barriers to peace, saying that school books distributed by UNRWA
teach that it is the task of the Arabs to kick out the Jews.
Turning to subjects such as BDS and antisemitism, the two men could not fully agree. Whereas in Rivlin’s perception, BDS is a form of antisemitism, Zijlstra disagreed. His country’s government is opposed to BDS, he said, but things that are offensive to Israel are not always a sign of antisemitism, though they can be, he conceded. “When BDS and antisemitism come together, we will fight them.”
Rivlin was very appreciative of the Dutch government’s attitude towards antisemitism, and voiced the hope that it would be just as aggressive toward Iran, which he said not only funds two terrorist regimes – Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south – but has imperialist plans for the region which could prove dangerous for the whole world.
Rivlin underscored that Iran was not only a concern for Israel. “It’s something that should worry everyone,” he said. “Iran can influence all the terrorist groups in the world.”
Rivlin was particularly keen to spell out all the threats posed by Iran because on January 1 the Netherlands became a non-permanent, two-year member of the United Nation’s Security Council and will chair the council during the month of March.
This makes the Netherlands important not only in Europe, but in the whole world, said Rivlin.
Zijlstra said that while he had initially opposed the Iran deal, today he believes that there should be “close supervision” of Iran’s nuclear capability. It was better to have a deal in place to facilitate such supervision, he noted, adding: “We will continue to have a close eye on Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.”
Earlier in the day, Rivlin spoke at the Globes Economic Conference in Jerusalem and referred to the terrorist attack in which Rabbi Raziel Shevach was killed, leaving a wife and six children, aged 11 to less than a year. Rivlin said that the time had come to bolster the residents of Samaria and to strengthen the security forces who are working day and night to bring quiet back to the region and to capture the murderers and bring them to justice.