Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dutch minister Rosenthal again annoys EU-colleagues with hard line pro-Israel attitude

Dutch minister of Foreign Affairs Uri Rosenthal annoyed his EU counterparts by not joining in criticism of increasing violence by Israeli settlers on the occupied West Bank, the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad reported on Wednesday.
The annoyance is understandable as it is not the first time Rosenthal obstructs a common European stand on Israel, in fact it is a pattern.  
According to the NRC, Rosenthal decided to  withhold Dutch approval of a secret report by European representatives of the EU in the occupied territories that signaled 'an alarming increase in the violence exercised by settlers'. Apart for formulations in the report that the settlements are illegal and are making a two state solution impossible, it quotes United Nations figures that indicate that incidents involving settler violence increased threefold in 2011 to 411.Rosenthal communicated through his representative in Ramallah that the Netherlands 'placed a general reservation' on the report, which is mentioned under the text. The gesture is quite unusual, as Rosenthal in this way in fact disavows his own diplomat on the spot. Quite a number of eyebrows were raised in Brussels after this last action of the Dutch minister. 'What we observe is the most hard line Dutch attitude ever, an attitude which in essence corresponds with the most hard line viewpoints inside Israel itself,'' the paper quoted a European diplomat. 
As said, Rosenthal put things in the way of a common European stand vis a vis Israel. In September Rosenthal  withheld at the very last minute his approval - it was reported that he instructed his representative in Geneva standing the meeting by iPhone - for a common declaration by the EU in the UN-Human Rights Council in Geneva. It was reported that Rosenthal objected to references in a pre-prepared text, to a two-state solution, arrests of peacefully demonstrating human rights activists and to the destruction of homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
In January 2012 NRC-Handelsblad reported that Rosenthal withheld his approval for a common declaration in which the council of European foreign minsters voiced its concern about developments in the so called 'Area C' of the West Bank. As a result of his intervention the text of the declaration was reduced to the rather meaningless observation that 'disturbing developments were taking place'. Area C is the 62% of the West Bank which also contains the settlements. Rosenthal's intervenytion was backed by Italy and the Czech republic. The original text contained among other things observations that the settlements continued to grow and the Palestinian population was diminishing. It stated that  "if current trends are not stopped and reversed, the establishment of a viable Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders seem more remote than ever".

Earlier Rosenthal also put pressure on the Dutch NGO "ICCO'' to end its contribution of 50.000 euro a year to the Internet publication Electronic Intifada, after the hawkish Israeli lobby group 'NGO Monitor' published a number of  accusations (most of them unfounded) against the Electronic Intifada. Rosenthal never took the trouble to investigate the veracity of NGO-Monitor's claims. 
It is noteworthy that Rosenthal made his debut in 2010 as foreign minister in a Dutch cabinet that in the paragraph about foreign policy in its constituent declaration singled out Israel as the one country with which it wanted to strengthen its ties. Israel was also the only country that was mentioned at all in the declaration.  

No comments: