Dutch force EU to weaken Israel criticism

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The Netherlands this week put pressure on the European Union to water down a statement on Jewish settlements in Israel, reports the newspaper.

The paper says the Dutch move meant the final EU statement did not refer to an interim report which was critical of the settlements. Opposition party Green Left is pushing for a debate in parliament in the light of the newspaper report.

Green Left MP Mariko Peters points out that Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal last week denied that the statement was among the issues to be discussed by EU ministers. He also said that the Netherlands had yet to take a position on the subject. “Rosenthal has not just blocked the EU decision on Israel but has also further isolated the Netherlands,” she complains.

Mr Rosenthal was not giving a lot away on Thursday when he responded to the commotion:

Not worried The foreign minister says he’s “not particularly worried” that he tends to be put under the spotlight when there’s a fuss about EU statements on Israel. His motto in talks about such statements is: “Everything in the interests of peace in the Middle East”.

Last year, Mr Rosenthal found himself facing similar criticism from MPs. At the time, talks on a joint EU position on the Israeli Palestinian conflict failed, according to him, because the draft text was not balanced. In his view, the text ran counter to efforts to get talks between the Israelis and Palestinians going again.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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