The Netherlands rejects boycotts or sanctions against Israel, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans told local media, Dutch News reported Friday.
Timmermans qualified his statement, and said that the Netherlands is committed to its anti-settlements stance and discourages Dutch companies from doing business with them. "That has been the policy for years," the foreign minister said.
Timmerman's comments were made after several high-profile divestments by Dutch firms in recent months. Last week, the Netherlands' largest pension fund manager PGGM severed its ties with Israel's five largest banks because they have branches in the West Bank and/or are involved in financing construction in the settlements. The Dutch government said it had nothing to do with PGGM's decision.
In December, Dutch water giant Vitens reneged on a deal with the Israeli company Mekorot, citing the "political context" of Israel's West Bank settlements, which "cannot be separated from future projects."
In September, Dutch engineering giant Royal HaskoningDHV canceled an East Jerusalem project with the Jerusalem municipality, after the Dutch government warned it that the project is over the Green Line.
The Netherlands and Israel recently had a row following Israel's refusal to view a Dutch container scanner meant to be used in Israel's border with the Gaza Strip.
The Netherlands had hoped the high-tech machine would lead Israel to allow exports from Gaza to the West Bank to resume. But Israeli Defense Ministry officials explained that for security reasons, Israel wants to isolate the West Bank from the Gaza Strip, and allowing goods from the Strip into the West Bank would contradict this policy.
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