Israel Complains to Dutch Ambassador Over Water Boycott
Israel’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday filed a formal complaint with the Dutch ambassador to Israel over the decision by Vitens, a Dutch water company, to cut ties with its Israeli counterpart Mekorot due to the company's presence in areas located beyond the 1949 Armistice lines.
According to Kol Yisrael radio, the complaint said that the Dutch Foreign Ministry was creating an atmosphere that encourages a boycott of Israel. The complaint was filed with the ambassador during a meeting marking the conclusion of the visit to Israel of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
The report added that the Dutch foreign ministry has indicated to Israel that Vitens’ decision was an independent one and was not made at the request of the government in the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, Vitens said on Wednesday that it ended its partnership with Mekorot due to the "political context", reported AFP.
In a statement quoted by the news agency, Vitens said it had come to the conclusion that it was "extremely hard" to work with Mekorot on future projects "because they cannot be taken out of the political context."
Vitens said, according to AFP, that the decision to end the Mekorot tie-up was made after conferring with the Dutch foreign ministry and other "concerned parties".
Mekorot, which provides water to Israeli towns and to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, has been accused by Dutch media of denying water access to Palestinian Authority Arabs.
However, the head of Mekorot told Kol Yisrael radio on Wednesday night that not only was his company not denying water to PA Arab towns, it was in fact providing these towns with water.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin said on Wednesday he was "blindsided" by the pullout, adding that “a few more European companies have made similar decisions in the past months, which have blindsided us exactly in parallel with the peace process."
The Vitens saga came after another issue affected Rutte’s visit to Israel. The Dutch premier 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.