Dutch Prime Minister Opposes Water Boycott
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has rejected a local water company’s boycott of its Israeli counterpart, Kol Yisrael radio reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, Rutte spoke with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and clarified that the decision by Vitens, a Dutch water company, to cut ties with its Israeli counterpart Mekorot is inconsistent with government policy.
Rutte reportedly clarified that Vitens would continue to work with Mekorot.
The reason cited for last week’s decision was Mekorot’s presence in areas located beyond the 1949 Armistice lines.
Vitens said it ended its partnership with Mekorot because 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."
The company claimed that the decision to end the Mekorot ties was made after conferring with the Dutch foreign ministry and other "concerned parties", though the Dutch foreign ministry had indicated to Israel that Vitens’ decision was an independent one and was not made at the request of the government in the Netherlands.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry subsequently filed a formal complaint with the Dutch ambassador to Israel over the Vitens boycott.
The Vitens saga came after another issue affected Rutte’s visit to Israel last week. 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.