Netherlands Threatens Veto on Israeli Sanctions
THE HAGUE, 20/06/13 - Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans will use his veto on possible EU sanctions against Israel, he said Wednesday.
The European Union is threatening measures against Israel if it goes ahead with the building of settlements on the disputed E1 location east of Jerusalem. According to Timmermans, European sanctions are now not on the agenda at all, but he will block them if necessary.
Building on E1 will however have a negative effect on the bilateral relations between the Netherlands and Israel, he added. E1 is the strongly contested area next to Jerusalem, where Israel announced last autumn it wanted to start building. Israel was criticised worldwide for the building plans, which have not yet been carried out.
Timmermans has held talks in the past two days with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The chances of a resumption of peace negotiations would be lost with sanctions, and he wants to avoid this.
Timmermans considers it extremely important for US State Secretary John Kerry to get a chance to bring Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table. “The initiative of President Obama and Minister Kerry is not only the best but also the only option for getting the peace process underway again,” says the minister.
Timmermans also reacted to statements by the Israeli Economic Affairs Minister that the Palestinians’ desire for their own state is hopeless and Israel must annex the Palestinian Territories. “Everyone here always calls for everything. I will not now intervene between the parties that must come together at the (negotiating) table. But the Dutch position is that the illegal settlements are an essential point in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. I have also strongly emphasised this in my talks with Israeli colleagues,” said Timmermans.
Earlier this week, it was announced that the Netherlands wants to set up special partnership links with both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) advised last April against further tightening of the ties with Israel.
Timmermans acknowledges that he is ignoring this advice. “We are indeed tightening the ties with both Israel and the Palestinians, because I believe that we can by this means make a constructive contribution to the reconciliation of the two parties.