Israel tells Dutch journalist to leave after series of critical reports
Dutch journalist Derk Walters - NRC correspondent on Israel and Palestine - was told to leave Israel by July. The Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) will not renew his work visa. According to the GPO, this is because NRC does not adhere to the country's accreditation rules. However, the NRC believes it is because Walters is critical about Israel in his reporting.
Walters has been NRC's correspondent in Israel since 2014. The GPO explained its refusal by saying that it learned NRC's editor-in-chief is also its managing director, which means that NRC does not meet the GPO's rules for accreditation, according to right-wing news agency The Times of Israel.
NRC denies this claim. In a piece published on Tuesday, chief editor Peter Vandermeersch wrote that "we can only see this as an attempt by Israel to impede free and critical news coverage about the country." He also added that Herman Loonstein, a pro-Israel lawyer from Amsterdam known to be critical of the NRC, wrote a letter to the GPO saying that Vandermeersch is both editor and director of the newspaper. "This was a deliberate attempt to damage NRC", Vandermeersch writes.
While Vandermeersch is a board member for the newspaper's parent company, NRC Media, the company is helmed by CEO Rien van Beemenz. Its Commercial Director is Madelon Fortuin. Journalist and biographer Sjoerd de Jong also serves as the independent ombudsman for the newspaper.
According to the GPO, it is an "absolute lie" that Walters' visa was refused because of his critical reporting, the Times of Israel reports.