Dutch government rejects Palestinian initiative

Netherlands’ Prime Minister Mark Rutte, right, speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his residence in The Hague on Thursday.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands: The Dutch government rejected a Palestinian initiative Thursday to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal to seek support for the plan to seek statehood at the UN General Assembly in September, although membership of a new state must be endorsed by the Security Council, where it could be vetoed by the US and others.

But Rosenthal bluntly rejected the idea of the Palestinian initiative going to the General Assembly. “No, it will not be supported by the Netherlands,” Rosenthal told reporters.

Instead, Rosenthal called for a resumption of “direct negotiations, right now” between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Netherlands is a strong supporter of Israel, but also sends millions in development aid each year to the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas said he hoped the Netherlands could play a role within the European Union in supporting the peace process.

On Wednesday, Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, whose country will hold the rotating EU presidency for the next six months, said the 27-nation bloc is working on a common position to take if the UN is asked to recognize a Palestinian state.

Any common European stance would depend on a possible resolution’s final wording, Sikorski said.

However, key member states already appear divided. France has said it will support Palestinian statehood if negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians do not restart by September. But countries like Germany or Italy — and now the Netherlands — are likely to oppose any such resolution.

(arabnews.com / 03.07.2011)

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