Row over Israeli mayoral visit to the Netherlands

20th September 2010, Comments 0 comments


Thirty Israeli mayors who were due to visit the Netherlands have been told they are not welcome, because some of them come from controversial Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

"The visit by mayors of settlements like Har Adar and Kiryat Arba is extremely sensitive," says Ralph Pans managing director of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities VNG, which helped organise the trip. Mr Pans says the association did not want to take sides in the Middle-East conflict by organising a trip in which mayors from Israeli settlements took part.

He also said it was strange that the Israelis hadn’t informed the association who was coming. It was only later that the VNG learnt from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that six mayors from settlements were in the delegation.

Irrelevant The Israeli Foreign Ministry has expressed its disappointment. In a declaration the ministry said it was wrong to allow irrelevant political considerations to stop the trip. According to the ministry this undermines direct dialogue between local governments, reports, the English-language website of Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronot.

One of the mayors due to visit was Oded Revivi from the Efrat settlement. Mr Revivi says by calling the visit off the Netherlands is trying to draw the borders of Israel and called it improper interference.

True friend The row does not appear to have damaged the generally good relationship between the Netherlands and Israel. A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry Yossi Levy says the Netherlands remains “a true friend of Israel”.  



© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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