Dutch Foreign Minister: Calls to Boycott Israel Protected Free Speech by the Constitution

Bert Koenders says government does not support BDS but individuals are free to do so despite Israeli diplomatic efforts to crack down on movement.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders in Jerusalem on July 14, 2015.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders in Jerusalem on July 14, 2015.Credit: Haim Zach / GPO

Calls to boycott Israel are protected under Dutch and European law, Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders said during a debate of the Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday, reported the Middle East Monitor.

Israel has been making efforts worldwide in order to push governments to crack down on BDS activities. But Koenders said that "statements or meetings concerning BDS are protected by the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as enshrined in the Dutch Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights."

He continued to say that the Dutch government itself does not support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, but reiterated that individuals have the legal freedom to participate in related activities.

While it was unclear if Koenders' comments during debate constituted official government policy or personal opinion, the incident put The Netherlands just behind Sweden where, in March 2016, the foreign minister labeled BDS "a civil society movement" and that government should not interfere in "civil society organization views."

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