Pro-Palestinian, Pro-Israel demonstrations in Amsterdam to be separated
Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan decided to separate any future demonstrations by pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel groups in the city. Demonstrations will still be allowed, but not at the same time, or separated at least 50 meters from each other, AT5 reports.
Demonstrators of both groups gather on Dam Square almost every weekend, as the conflict in the Middle East continues unabated. Last week Israeli soldiers destroyed a Dutch development project supplying electricity to a Palestinian village on the west bank of the Jordan river. According to the Mayor, these demonstrations often result in nuisance, violence and criminal offenses. "As a result, police are frequently deployed, arrests are made and items are confiscated", he wrote to the municipal council.
The city of Amsterdam believes that the situation will get worse, rather than better - there is no foreseeable solution to the conflict in the Middle East and Van der Laan finds it unacceptable that "a handful of people" take over the city's busiest square. The Amsterdam mayor therefore decided to intervene, in consultation with the police and Public Prosecutor.
The two different groups will no longer be allowed to demonstrate simultaneously in the same place. They will either have to move their demonstrations to different parts of the city - at least 50 meters apart - or organize their demonstrations for different times.
According to Van der Laan, both groups are responsible for these measures. "Instead of offering space for dissidents, [the organizers] and/or their sympathizers act hostile and provoke people with different or opposing views, resulting in escalation and public order disturbances."
Van der Laan considers the right to demonstrate to be "almost holy", but he believes intervention is needed now to prevent further escalation. "If the freedom of expression clashes with the right to be free of fear for discrimination, hatred or violence, the latter freedom wins in Amsterdam."