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Het volledige verhaal over Rutte’s bezoek aan Israël

Door Missing Peace
Premier Rutte tijdens de persconferentie met NetanyahuPremier Rutte tijdens de persconferentie met Netanyahu

Nederlandse media berichtten op zondag dat het bezoek van premier Rutte en minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Timmermans aan Israël ontsierd was door twee incidenten.

De media schetsten een beeld van een onwillig Israël dat weigerde om een door Nederland gefinancierde veiligheidsscanner bij de grensovergang Keren Shalom met Gaza in gebruik te nemen (NRC) en van onredelijke veiligheidsmaatregelen tijdens een voorgenomen bezoek van minister Timmermans aan de voormalige Palestijnse markt in Hevron (o.a. Volkskrant).

Volgens Timmermans wilde de IDF hem escorteren en is het niet de gewoonte dat buitenlandse ministers en politici in de door de PA gecontroleerde gebieden worden begeleid door Israëlische militairen.

Beide voorstellingen van zaken zijn echter onvolledig of onjuist.

Wat was er dan wel aan de hand?

Volgens een Israëlische woordvoerder stelde Nederland vorige week plotseling aanvullende eisen aan het gebruik van de scanner. De scanner zou volgens Nederland ook moeten worden gebruikt om goederen vanuit het door Hamas gecontroleerde Gaza naar de West-Bank te exporteren.

Het Nederlandse verzoek kon door Israel niet worden ingewilligd omdat Israël geen exporten toestaat vanuit Gaza naar de West-Bank, en wel om veiligheidsredenen. Het Israëlische ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken legde de zaak voor aan minister Moshe Ya’alon die na ampel beraad het verzoek afwees.

De Israëlische premier Netanyahu legde de zaak uitgebreid uit tijdens een persoonlijk gesprek met de Nederlandse premier en tijdens  een gezamenlijke persconferentie met  Rutte. (Een transcriptie van deze persconferentie vindt u onder dit artikel).

Netanyahu legde uit dat Israel gebruik van de scanner waardevol vindt maar op dit moment geen exporten vanuit Gaza naar de West-Bank toestaat. Hij legde ook uit waarom. Hamas maakte bijvoorbeeld misbruik van versoepeling van restricties op importen naar Gaza om door Israël geleverd beton te gebruiken voor de aanleg van een tunnel onder de grens met Israel van waaruit aanslagen op Israëlische doelen zouden worden gepleegd. De IDF ontdekte deze tunnel echter tijdig.

 Israël wil voorkomen dat Hamas wapens en explosieven naar de West-Bank smokkelt, aldus Netanyahu, hij voegde eraan toe dat dit ook in het belang is van de PA.

De Israëlische premier wees verder op de talloze maatregelen die Israël nam om de Palestijnse economie te verbeteren maar zei dat het te vroeg was om exporten uit Gaza naar de West-Bank toe te staan.

Overigens is Israël ondanks de staat van oorlog met Hamas het enige land dat handel via een grensovergang met Gaza toestaat. Egypte heeft de grens met Gaza sinds afgelopen zomer gesloten.

Bezoek aan Hebron

De berichtgeving over het tweede incident dat leidde tot de afzegging van een bezoek van minister Timmermans aan Hebron ging voorbij aan een belangrijk feit. Timmermans wilde namelijk de voormalige Arabische markt in Hebron bezoeken.

Kaart van Hebron na het Wye akkoordKaart van Hebron na het Wye akkoord

Deze markt ligt in het zogenaamde H2 gebied waar 800 Joden wonen te midden van duizenden Palestijnen. Sinds de ondertekening van het zogenaamde Wye akkoord tussen Israël en de Palestijnse Autoriteit is de IDF verantwoordelijk voor de veiligheid en de handhaving van de orde in het gebied. De PA is verantwoordelijk voor de veiligheid in de rest van Hebron (H1).

Zie voor de exacte tekst over deze veiligheidsbepalingen in het Wye akkoord dit OCHA rapport over Hebron:  http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ochaHU0705_En.pdf

Het is goed mogelijk dat Timmermans niet op de hoogte was van de exacte locatie van de markt en de veiligheidsvoorzieningen te plaatse. Indien dat wel het geval was dan lijken politieke motieven eerder ten grondslag te hebben gelegen aan zijn beslissing om het bezoek aan de markt af te lassen.

Overigens zorgden de twee incidenten niet voor een crisis of een bekoeling van de relaties. Integendeel beide premiers wezen op de vriendschap tussen Nederland en Israël en op de verregaande coöperatie tussen de twee landen.

 

Statements by PM Netanyahu and PM of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Rutte
After Their Meeting in Jerusalem  08/12/2013

http://www.pmo.gov.il/English/MediaCenter/Events/Pages/eventrutte081213.aspx

Netanyahu: Mark, it’s very good to see you and your delegation. It’s a great
relationship that we have, both between our countries, our peoples, our
governments and between us personally. You’re a great friend, a champion of
Dutch-Israeli relations and a champion of peace and prosperity and I welcome
you here in that spirit. We’ve been working together, not only in these
meetings but throughout we’ve had constant communications in our quest for
peace and security.

Holland is a natural partner. It’s a small country. It’s got a tremendous
history facing very powerful forces – the Spanish Empire at one time – a
great commercial and economic enterprising people that has been the hob of
expertise and initiative and entrepreneurship. And I think that in many ways
there is a parallel here and a natural affinity. We have looked at a lot of
the things that you have done: your transportation hubs, your economic
policies.

We’ve learned a lot from that, copied quite a few things and we think that
the ability to cooperate together in the fields of technology is key. The
future belongs to those who innovate. This is the only way that we can
justify the higher cost of products and our services and raise the living
standards of our people. We have a capacity to innovate; you have a capacity
to innovate; and if we work together, I think that capacity could be very
powerful, both in direct cooperation and also in things that we can do in
third countries and better the lot of a lot of peoples, for example in
Africa and other places. I think that Dutch-Israeli cooperation can be
productive, not only for ourselves, but also for the peoples that we serve.

So these are some of the things that we are going to discuss. We also had
the opportunity to discuss how Dutch companies and the Dutch government
could assist our effort to advance the peace with the Palestinians. That’s
primarily by advancing prosperity but it doesn’t substitute for the
political, but buttresses it and helps give people hope and prevents them
from sliding to, I would say to radical, I was going to give them a
compliment, medieval ideologies. But I think they’re pre-medieval in some
cases. This is what we want to do. We want to embrace the future in this
effort that we’re now conducting for prosperity, security and peace.

Last time I was in Holland, I visited the ancient Portuguese Synagogue in
Amsterdam. It’s one of the great synagogues of the world and it’s a
reflection, I think, of the role that Holland, really the free state of
Holland, played in our history, being a point of refuge for Portuguese Jews.
We know that they found there not merely a spiritual and physical haven, but
a people that is fundamentally, I would say, sympathetic to Jewish values. I
know that the Dutch language contains a lot of words, so the one word that
I’ll tell you that I know has come from Spinoza and the greats who occupied
Holland, it’s mazal. We need a lot of good mazal. And with our cooperation,
I think we’ll get it. Mazal Tov, exactly.

Rutte: Thank you so much. My good friend, Bibi, thank you again for this
very warm welcome. As you know, we have a tremendous friendship between
Israel and the Netherlands. I didn’t come here alone; I came with two of my
cabinet colleagues and over 60 companies accompanying me from the water
sector, from ICT, from energy, from AgriFood because we want to do business.
The Netherlands is open for business.

At the same time, we discussed in our meeting we just had issues on the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict and how we can help to solve that. Obviously we
discussed the question of the Iranian developments.

Netanyahu: How could we not?

Rutte: How could we not? And we both agreed, I think, that economic
prosperity and growth is of paramount importance to fight the extremist
forces and to get things going. We as Netherlands are fully aware of the
security concerns of Israel; we will always be. We are good friends and in
that spirit and the spirit of innovation, where we work hand-in-hand, I
really want to thank you for this very special visit and I’m looking forward
to the dinner we will have later and discussions here at this table, which
will be concerned with all the economic developments.

Netanyahu: Thank you. Thank you Mark.

Question: Do you really have raised the idea of the Dutch setting up a
two-track [inaudible] here as well as in Palestinian areas. And I’m asking
the question because we had the idea that [inaudible] in the last few days,
there was an issue with the container approval, container site in Gaza was
[inaudible]. Our Foreign Minister was not allowed to walk the streets of
Hebron without the IDF. Do you know if that was arranged in advance? And
lastly, I’m here with a group of journalists and only allowed to ask one
question so, the question to you simply, sir, is are you somewhat irritated
with us?

Netanyahu: Really? No. I wish all my dealings with foreign leaders and
foreign governments were akin to what I have with Mark and your delegation
and your government. Look, I have a record. My record has been to facilitate
economic development of the Palestinian areas as far as possible. People
wrongly call it the economic peace. I never said that this would substitute
for political peace. I just repeated that. It doesn’t but it facilitates it
and during my second term in office, the Palestinian economy and the
Palestinian Authority grew by about 10%. It’s slackened; it’s now at least
half that, perhaps less than that.

And we have a goal, which is a common goal with the Palestinians, to raise
that level.

And the only way you raise that level is doing things that I did, and I have
to be clear about it – we removed hundreds of roadblocks, checkpoints,
hundreds, facilitated movement of goods and services and this has been
indispensable for the growth of the Palestinian economy in the Palestinian
Authority. Now in Gaza, when we left unilaterally – we left and gave it up –
what happened was that it was taken over essentially by Iran’s proxies,
Hamas and now Islamic Jihad, and they have used that place to basically
start a war economy: rockets, missiles and so on. Nevertheless, we opened up
the passages and enabled them to import the needs that they have.

I think it’s very important for us to make sure that what comes out of Gaza
is not used for war materiel. For example, we just discovered a tunnel. The
tunnel had 700 tons of concrete – 700 tons of concrete into one tunnel. We
think there are at least another 15-20 tunnels like that. So we allow them
to bring concrete and then they use it for tunnels that are used for
kidnapping or attacks against us.

So obviously we’re not interested in that. For this purpose, we welcome the
bringing in of scanners to make sure that at least we control the material
that goes in and out of Gaza. But our concern is security. It is not to
prevent prosperity. It’s to enable prosperity without undertaking impossible
security challenges. The Dutch scanner I think is an important contribution
to that. It’s already there. It can facilitate right now the screening of
goods that go out to the European markets. We want to make sure that goods
that go from there, from Gaza, do not contain weapons or explosives that can
reach the Palestinian Authority areas.

That would undermine not merely us, it would undermine the Palestinian
Authority. There are salafist cells, there are Hamas cells that we’re
dealing with in the Palestinian Authority area and we have been able to, in
cooperation with the Palestinian security forces, to keep them at bay. I
don’t want to give an open channel to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and al-Nusra
into the Palestinian Authority. That is not a good idea. So let’s work.
Let’s take it stage by stage. The scanner is good; it’s important for
security; it’ll be important also for prosperity; and we’ll take one step at
a time together.

Question: And the issue of [inaudible].

Netanyahu: Oh, the visit? I wasn’t aware of it, believe me. These are not
political directives. We do not, I do not give – you’d be amazed at this,
but I do not know how we safeguard foreign dignitaries on visits. We have
security details that do what is necessary. Minister Timmerman is a welcome
guest. I’m very glad that Prime Minister Rutte and your government ministers
are here. We welcome the opportunity for you to visit any place you wish.

http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/visiting-dutch-israelis-squabble-over-israels-role-in-gaza-pa/2013/12/09/