Netanyahu to thank Dutch in visit to The Hague

PM and Duth PM expected to agree to start gov't to gov't program after Holland's objection to a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu broad gesture 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu broad gesture 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
THE HAGUE – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will visit the Netherlands on Wednesday to strengthen bilateral relations and “thank Holland for its recent positions in international fora,” spokesman Mark Regev told The Jerusalem Post.
The recent positions include the Dutch vote last year against Palestinian membership at UNESCO and the Dutch objection to a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood, Regev said. Following the visit, the two countries will begin having joint cabinet meetings to “enhance cooperation,” he added.
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Netanyahu and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte are expected to agree to start a government-to-government program, in which the two cabinets will hold yearly joint meetings meant to serve as “a vehicle to enhance bilateral cooperation.”
Israel holds regular joint cabinet meetings with Germany, Italy and Poland. The Netherlands does not hold joint cabinet meetings, though the spokesman for the ruling VVD party, Han ten Broeke, spoke favorably in parliament in November of starting joint meetings with Germany, based on the Israel-German model.
During his visit on Wednesday, Netanyahu is scheduled to discuss Israel’s relations with the Netherlands, and also Israel’s relationship with the European Union, Regev said. “The Netherlands is very supportive of Israel’s desire to strengthen the Israel–EU partnership,” he added.
The EU decided in 2008 to upgrade relations with Israel and give the country the status of a senior trading partner. However, the upgrade was put on ice due to lack of progress in the peace process with the Palestinians.
Other subjects to be discussed during Netanyahu’s visit are the Iranian nuclear threat, the peace process, the political changes taking place in the Middle East and trade relations.
In February 2011, 75 percent of the Dutch parliament voted in favor of a motion calling on the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The vote was supported by all major parties except the Socialist Party.
Israel is the only foreign country named in the coalition agreement between the ruling Liberal Party, the Christian Democratic Appeal and the anti-Muslim Party for Freedom, led by Geert Wilders. The agreement says Holland wants to “invest more in the bond with Israel.”
The Dutch Foreign Ministry under Minister Uri Rosenthal is criticized in the media for his government’s policy on Israel. In November, during deliberations on the ministry’s budget, Harry van Bommel of the Socialist Party told the parliament that upgrading ties with Israel “is simply seen in Israel as support for Israel’s settlement policy.”