Dutch FM: Israel, Hamas must probe Gaza war

Israel, Hamas must prob

lieberman in denmark 248.88 (photo credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
lieberman in denmark 248.88
(photo credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen used a meeting Wednesday with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman to chastise Israel and the Palestinians for failing to investigate war crimes allegations stemming from Operation Cast Lead. "Nobody can commit serious human rights violations with impunity," Verhagen said, after the meeting with Lieberman, which took place Wednesday at The Hague. Verhagen's comments came despite the Dutch vote last month against the UN Human Rights Council's endorsement of the Goldstone Report, which called on Israel and Hamas to investigate alleged abuses or face possible referral to international war crimes prosecutors. The Netherlands cast one of six dissenting votes in the 47-nation body, joining the United States, Italy, Hungary, Ukraine and Slovakia. The Netherlands was also one of 18 nations to vote last week in the UN General Assembly against endorsing the report and sending it to the Security Council. Lieberman, for his part, told his Dutch counterpart that it was important to create a "positive dynamic and mutual trust" among Israelis and Palestinians ahead of a resumption of peace talks between the sides. Lieberman listed four "main stipulations" that would allow negotiations to resume: "Direct negotiations between the sides; a commitment not to resort to violence and terror; an end to the squabbles in the international arena and cooperation to dramatically improve the economic and security situation in Palestinian Authority areas and in the remainder of the West Bank." Verhagen also said after the meeting that he had pressured Lieberman to halt settlement construction in the West Bank and to open the Gaza Strip's borders to humanitarian aid. Earlier in the day, Lieberman said that Israel and the Palestinians need to start direct talks. "We say from the first day of this government that we really want direct talks and I think this would help to keep the political process alive," he said. Lieberman later visited the Dutch parliament for a closed-door discussion with lawmakers. A small rally of some 40 activists protested his presence outside the parliament building. Lieberman had been due to meet privately with lawmaker Geert Wilders, a strong supporter of Israel, but Wilders said in a text message to the Associated Press he had called off the meeting because he was feeling unwell. The Dutch Labor Party, part of the country's ruling coalition, criticized Verhagen for his planned meeting with the Israeli foreign minister, calling Lieberman an "extreme right politician."