The Netherlands will not be jumping on the bandwagon of European support for recognizing Palestinian statehood, said its newly appointed foreign minister Bert Koenders.
The announcement came as a surprise, given Koenders’ pro-Palestian track record, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency noted.
The Labor politician has in the past said that Israel should compensate the Netherlands for destroying the Dutch-funded Gaza port, denounced the security blockade on Gaza as collective punishment, and condemed the security barrier in Yehudah and Shomron as a violation of international law.
But he opposes recognition because it is counter-productive to promoting peace.
“The overwhelming majority, including the Dutch government, believes that it does not contribute to the priority issue of restarting negotiations if we all of a sudden go ahead [and recognize a Palestinian state] because Sweden also did it,” Koenders said.
Sweden led Spain, Britain, France and the European Union in a rush of symbolic votes for recognition.
The Netherlands, Koenders said, would recognize Palestine “at a strategic moment.”
On closer examination, the Dutch foreign minister is not as anti-Israel as it might have looked.
Regarding the above-mentioned compensation issue, he told JTA: “The Dutch taxpayer put enormous amounts of money and time into creating infrastructure for the Palestinian Authority that was later destroyed. Sometimes by the Palestinians themselves. But in most cases by Israelis.”
Actually, Koenders said he does not insist on compensation, only more accountability in expenditure on foreign aid. He also spoke out against corruption in the Palestinian Authority.
To be sure, he is critical of what he called Israeli “occupation,” but he does not close his eyes to Hamas’ terrorism and has condemned it.