The Dutch government has asked local firms not to deal with Israeli companies working in illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories because this violates international law. Israel fears that this move will become a trend among EU member states.
According to a report in Haaretz, the Dutch government has asked the country's largest engineering company to rethink its participation in a project with the Israeli-run Jerusalem Municipality because the project is based on the Palestinian side of the 1967 border. The newspaper affirmed that Royal Haskoning DHV may pull out of the sewage treatment project after warnings from the Foreign Ministry that it would be breaking international law.
The project was supposed to be carried out in cooperation with Mati Company and is intended to filter contaminated water in Kadron Wadi. The filtration plant was supposed to be built in "Area C", which is under Israeli civil and security control even though it is on the Palestinian side of the 1949 Armistice Line.
Jerusalem Municipality, said Haaretz, informed the Israeli foreign ministry that it faced problems with implementing the project, mentioning the warnings from the Dutch foreign ministry regarding the legal consequences of implementing projects for Israel companies in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The municipality told the government that the Dutch firm is concerned about possible legal action against it and subsequent legal and economic costs.
Britain and Sweden have both issued similar guidelines to companies intending to do business in the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel's foreign ministry sent letters to its embassies in the 28 EU member states to check whether Holland took an individual measure in this regard, or if it was a common move by all. Haaretz said that the foreign ministry has received "reassuring" replies.
However, the Israeli ambassador in Brussels said that the EU is working on a warning for European businessmen and companies regarding setting up economic relations with Israeli settlements. He said that an expert committee would discuss the issue next September. Sources close to the Israeli government described this as a "serious escalation" by the EU.