Israel's Foreign Ministry has summoned the Dutch Ambassador in Tel Aviv over the Dutch water supplier Vitens' decision to end its partnership with the Israeli water company Merokot because of its operations in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Vitens, a state-owned company, announced on Tuesday that it had decided to end its partnership with the Israeli company because it is operating in the occupied Palestinian territories in a clear violation of international law. The company released an official statement saying: "Vitens attaches great importance to integrity and adhering to (inter)national laws and regulations." It continued: "Following consultation with stakeholders, the company came to the realization that it is extremely difficult to continue joint work on projects, as they cannot be separated from the political environment."
The Israeli Foreign Ministry has accused the Dutch government of encouraging the world to punish Israel and everything that is related to the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the Foreign Ministry summoned Dutch Ambassador Casper Veldkamp "to protest what it said were 'ambiguous' statements by the Dutch Foreign Ministry creating a pro-boycott atmosphere of Israel in the Netherlands, on Wednesday."
Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Radio that Vitens broke with Merokot due to pressure from Dutch Parliamentarians and Amnesty International. He responded by stating: "I say to the Europeans, you cannot cry and whine all the time that you are not part of the diplomatic process, and that the US leads it alone, when you take one sided, unbalanced and sometimes even hostile polices," he said. "You want to be part of the process? Those who want to be part of the process have to come with a balanced policy toward the conflict, and only then come and demand to be part of the process."
The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had visited Tel Aviv earlier this week to strengthen trade relations between the two countries, when the ceremonial visit turned into a crisis of confidence after a new Dutch security scanner donated for use at the Gaza border was refused by Israel. Rutte reportedly responded by saying "I do not understand the Israeli position," and cancelled his visit to the Karem Salem crossing where the Dutch scanner was due to be installed. Rutte also cancelled his visit to Hebron when the Israeli security agency Shabak insisted on accompanying him. The prime minister had asked for Palestinian security services to accompany him, but Israel refused his request.
The Netherlands was one of the first European countries to demand labelling settlement products. Now, it is among the first to make the move to boycott them.