Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem "unwise and counterproductive": Dutch Minister

Halbe Zijlstra
Halbe Zijlstra. Photo: Rijksoverheid / Wikimedia Commons

Donald Trump's decision to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is "unwise and counterproductive", Minister Halbe Zijlstra of Foreign Affairs said to a delegation of the United States government in Brussels on Wednesday. The EU countries gave this same message to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during lunch. "This is going to reverse the peace process rather than moving it forward", Zijlstra said to NOS.

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs updated its travel advice for Israel after Trump's announcement. Dutch in Israel are warned to be alert and to follow local media. "Recent political developments increase the chances of protests and demonstrations in Jerusalem and at checkpoints and transitions to the Palestinian territories. Demonstrations can lead to violence. Avoid demonstrations and places where many people come", the advice reads. 

Dutch government parties VVD and D66 also called the US president's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel unwise. "It's like you're holding a burning match above an oil barrel, dropping it and hoping the wind blows it away", D66 parliamentarian Sjoerd Sjoerdsma said to the broadcaster.

VVD parliamentarian Han ten Broeke agrees. "It would be just as unwise to recognize the Palestinian State now", he said. "You should not hand out the peace talks prize in advance. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, that is just a fact. But it is unwise to make that recognition diplomatically now already."

The Rutte III coalition agreement states that the Netherlands is in favor of a 'two-state solution', in which Israel and the Palestinians live in peace with each other. "The Netherlands is using good relations with Israel and the Palestinian Authority for the preservation and realization of the two-state solution: an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state alongside a secure and internationally recognized Israel. The Netherlands is also working to improve the mutual relations between Israelis and Palestinians", the agreement states.

The international community sees the status of Jerusalem as the outcome of the process towards this two-state solution. Embassies moving to Jerusalem will be the "death kiss" of that process, according to the Palestinians. They also see Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. Saudi Arabia called Trump's plan "a blatant provocation". 

But while the Dutch government is officially against Trump's decision, the move can count on support from some Dutch parties, especially from the far-right and . Every year the PVV submits a motion for the Dutch embassy to be moved to Jerusalem. In 2016 the PVV, ChristenUnie, SGP and Groep Bontes/Van Klaveren voted for this motion, this year the PVV, ChristenUnie, SGP and FvD voted for.

PVV leader Geert Wilders called the American decision to do so "fantastic news, according to ANP. He also called the Dutch government "cowards" for not following suit. 

FvD leader Thierry Baudet called it a "great plan" for the Netherlands to follow the Americans with this move. 

 

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