AMSTERDAM — Following internal debate, a large Dutch church group retracted and apologized for its call for EU sanctions against Israel.
The Council of Churches, an umbrella of 18 churches and denominations, issued its unusual apology in a statement Thursday. The group took back its letter from last month to Foreign Minister Stef Blok urging him to scrap trade deals between the European Union and Israel if Israel applies its civilian laws in West Bank lands, a move some call annexation.
“We’re sorry that the letter brought to the minister’s attention has led to concern and confusion,” the council wrote in the statement.
The letter to Blok was a copy of an open letter published by the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, of which the Dutch council is a member.
Had the Dutch Council written its own letter, the retraction read, “it would have conveyed more carefully the ideas we wanted to express. ”
“We don’t wish to speak over specific sanctions or penal action, this is the responsibility of the political domain,” the statement said.
Three churches said that Thursday’s statement does not reflect their views. Two had vocally protested the letter to Blok, along with the Christians for Israel group.
The kingdom’s main interfaith organ, the Council of Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Netherlands, in a statement expressed “relief that [the council] successfully found its way back to the middle ground.”
The council’s statement reiterated its concern about what it called Israel’s annexation plans.