Daily Israel Report

Dutch Water Company Cuts Israel Ties, UK Warning

Vitens cuts ties with Israeli company Mekorot over presence in Judea and Samaria; British gov't warns against business involvement.
By Ari Yashar, Arutz Sheva Staff
First Publish: 12/10/2013, 10:04 PM

Mekorot worker fixes pipe (file)
Mekorot worker fixes pipe (file)
Flash 90

Vitens, the largest drinking water company in Holland, announced on Tuesday it would cut business ties with the Israeli water company Mekorot due to its presence in Judea and Samaria. Meanwhile the British government has similarly raised tensions with Israel through financial sanctions.

The announcement by Vitens, published by the company's management, noted that the decision was reached after consultation with Holland's Foreign Ministry. Vitens provides water to more than 5 million residents of Holland, and in the past has cooperated with Mekorot.

The move follows friction on Sunday. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, while visiting Israel, was to inaugurate a Dutch scanner on the Gaza border to verify contents of Hamas exports to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Judea and Samaria.

However, the inauguration was put off after "the Dutch suddenly imposed political conditions, notably on the percentage of merchandise destined for the West Bank or abroad," according to an unnamed Israeli official.

In a similar move, the British Department of Trade and Investment on Tuesday warned British citizens not to be involved in business activities connected to Israeli communities over the 1949 Armistice lines.

"European citizens and businesses need to be aware of the reputational risk that may be caused due to financial involvement in settlements," the warning states.

The British warning adds "investment, acquisition, holding businesses, tourism in the settlements or any financial activity that bears benefits to the settlements creates financial and legal risks because according to international law they were built on occupied territory, and they aren't a legitimate part of Israel."

A legal commission headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy in 2012 released its report which found that under international law Judea and Samaria are not "occupied," and that Israeli presence in the region is in no way illegal or "illegitimate."

In August, Holland became the second European Union (EU) nation after Britain to issue a directive to retail chains telling them to label "settlement" products.