Netanyahu Flies to Holland; Pro-PA Backers Urge ‘Shoe Protest’
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is flying to Holland Wednesday for an official visit, where pro-Palestinian Authority activists have called for a PA-flag waving rally and a “shoe protest,” a tradition of throwing shoes at targets of contempt and made popular in 2008 when a protester threw a show at then U.S. President George Bush at a press conference in Iraq.
Holland is a close ally of Israel and has opposed moves by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to circumvent the “diplomatic process” by admitting the PA into the United Nations as a member nation, thereby receiving recognition of its territorial and political demands. Holland also was among the minority of nations that opposed the PA’s entry into UNESCO three months ago.
The Prime Minister was scheduled to visit Amsterdam in November, but the trip was called off because of the death of his wife Sarah’s father.
Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet with Queen Beatrix, Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Deputy Prime Minister Maxime Verhagen, the defense and foreign ministers and senior parliamentary members.
He also will visit the famed Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam, built by Spanish and Portuguese Jewish exiles in 167, and will award a Bible as a mark of appreciation to Dutch Righteous Among the Nations Prof. Johan Van Hulst. The Prime Minister will make the presentation in the Dutch parliament on Thursday. Hulst, now 100 years old, saved hundreds of Jewish children during the Holocaust.
The protesters plan to stage their rally at the same time against “crimes” by Israel.
“The goal of the visit is to strengthen bilateral ties and advance cooperation in various fields,” the Prime Minister’s office stated. It said the agenda includes the establishment of an inter-governmental cooperation council to promote bilateral defense and foreign affairs cooperation and to increase economic cooperation in the academic field and in industry, agriculture, the environment and tourism.
Relations with the European Union also are on the agenda. The EU has been scornful of a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria and has used the lack of agreement to Abbas's demands for a Palestinian Authority nation-state as a toll against upgrading Israeli-EU relations.
The EU decided in 2008 to upgrade relations with Israel but the process was put on hold due to a lack of progress in the peace process with the Palestinians.