Ashrawi: Dutch government must exclude settlement companies from the Netherlands-Israel cooperation forum 5Dec13 December 5, 2013

netherlands_340_220-1PNN   -   5 December 2013

PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi urges the Dutch government to exclude settlement companies from the Netherlands-Israel Cooperation Forum, which will be launched next weekend, PLO’s Department of Culture and Information said in a press release.

According to Dutch and Israeli media reports several firms located in settlements or in other ways linked to Israel’s illegal settlement policy will be taking part in the Netherlands-Israel Cooperation Forum.

“This is incomprehensible and unacceptable,” Dr. Ashrawi said. “The official policy of the Dutch government is to discourage economic relations of Dutch companies with settlements. How can the Dutch government establish a cooperation forum with Israel which facilitates these relations and effectively supports the settlement economy?”

“Moreover, Palestinian authorities have formally requested the Dutch government to define the territorial scope of the Netherlands-Israel Cooperation Forum in accordance with Israel’s internationally recognized pre-1967 borders. Palestinian authorities did so with reference to a fundamental position of the European Union, supported by the Netherlands. Did the Netherlands dismiss this formal Palestinian request, in contravention of its own position?”

In this EU position, dated 10 December 2012, all EU member states committed to ensure that, in line with international law, all agreements with the State of Israel ” must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”

Dr. Ashrawi added: “Legal forms to apply this position in the context of the Netherlands-Israel Cooperation Forum are available. It depends on the political will of the Dutch government to solve this matter in accordance with international law. I call on the Dutch government to do so, also in the light of the Netherlands’ role and reputation as Legal Capital of the World.”

“In a parliamentary debate last week, Dutch Foreign Minister Timmermans stressed that the EU funding guidelines also apply to the Netherlands and that the Dutch government will fully comply with these guidelines. How can it assist and support settlement companies, when the guidelines’ very essence is to exclude settlement entities from European support?”, Dr. Ashrawi said.

“I also urge the Dutch government to exclude settlement-related companies to avoid interference with the Dutch-Palestinian Cooperation Forum, which will be established in parallel. In the Dutch-Israeli forum Israeli water company Mekorot takes part, which expropriates Palestinian water resources, discriminates in supplying water to Palestinians as opposed to settlers, and charges us for our own water. Water is a focal point in the Dutch-Palestinian Cooperation Forum. How can a company participate in the Dutch-Israeli forum that undermines Palestinian water rights?”, Dr. Ashrawi concluded.

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