Dutch ad watchdog criticizes Israeli tourism maps

Advertising Code Committee rules Israeli Nat'l Tourism Board materials do not clearly show Israel's "international recognized borders."

The Dutch advertising watchdog on Thursday alleged that Israel is publishing misleading information on its tourism website that blurs the borders between Israel and occupied Arab territories.
The Advertising Code Committee stated in a nonbinding ruling that material distributed by the Dutch branch of the Israeli National Tourism Board does not "clearly show where the border lies between what is internationally recognized as Israeli territory and 'disputed' areas."
RELATED:Union of Local Authorities to ‘reassess’ Netherlands relationshipGush Shalom blames Israeli leaders for Dutch rejectionPro-Palestinian activists complained that the maps gave the impression that parts of the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem are in Israel, as well as the Golan Heights captured from Syria.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor rejected the criticism. He said, that concerning the borders of Israel, "the situation is [still] ambiguous."
Thursday's ruling by the Advertising Code Committee represents the second recent incident in Israel's outreach efforts to the Netherlands marred by Dutch reticence over recognizing Israeli control of the West Bank.
In a letter sent out two weeks ago, the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) withdrew its support from an October trip of Israeli mayors to Holland after it learned that settler council heads were among the group’s participants.
The association said in the letter that the Union of Local Authorities, which had helped organize the trip, had not initially provided information regarding the list of participants when it requested organizational support.
“Surely you are well aware that the composition proposed is controversial, which places VNG in a very delicate position vis-a-vis different stake holders,” the association said in a letter.
It added that it had informed the Dutch Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Embassy in the Netherlands of its decision. The Association could not be reached for comment.
The Union of Local Authorities and settler leaders publicly attacked the decision on Sunday. Although the letter never explicitly stated an objection to “settlers,” Israelis told The Jerusalem Post that this was in fact the issue.
With this move, “Holland has not helped peace in the region,” Local Authorities head Shlomo Buhbut said in a letter he sent to the Dutch ambassador to Israel.
A spokesman for the Dutch Embassy in Tel Aviv confirmed that the decision was made by VNG, and was not a federal government decision. The spokesman said the Dutch government “respects” the decision of that body. He said that Dutch policy on the settlements is in line with that of the EU.
Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.