SP Senator Kox: Foreign Minister Must Follow Words with Deeds on Israeli Settlements

19 January 2017

SP Senator Kox: Foreign Minister Must Follow Words with Deeds on Israeli Settlements

SP Senator Tiny Kox, who has visited both Israel and Palestine on several occasions on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, says he is in full agreement with Foreign Minister Bert Koenders who on Sunday stated that in his view the two-state solution will cease to be viable should Israel continue to build illegal settlements on Palestinian territory. The SP’s own national Congress on Saturday, called to prepare for March 15th’s general election, passed a resolution, initiated by Kox, calling on the Dutch government to recognise the Palestinian State. “I agree with the minister’s words,” says Kox, “but it’s now up to him to follow up his words with deeds.”

Sunday saw the latest move in the Middle East Initiative for Peace launched by France last June. A Ministerial Conference in Paris attended by representatives of seventy governments aimed to create a solid basis for continued work for peace in what are likely to be the difficult years of Trump’s US presidency. Bert Koenders responded to French President François Hollande’s statement that the only possible resolution would involve a two-state arrangement by saying that any such solution would remain an illusion if Israel continues to build settlements in the Occupied Territories. Koenders’ statement follows last month’s United Nations Security Council resolution confirming the illegality of the settlements and instructing Tel Aviv to put a stop to them. “The Israeli government ignored this resolution,” says Kox. “So the Palestinians, and the many Israelis who want to see a just peace, need our support. We need to be putting pressure on the Israeli government, and Koenders should do what he has in the past promised to do, which is at the right moment formally and unequivocally recognise Palestine’s statehood. He stated quite recently that the time was not right, but now it most certainly is.”

Kox pointed out that with the election looming, it’s unlikely that Koenders would be Foreign Minister for much longer, even if his party fares better than predicted in the polls. “Take the initiative now, before it’s too late” Kox advised him, “then you’ll have something to take to the European Union’s Council of Foreign Ministers. The EU has to date done far too little to support the two-state solution, and has been too ready to follow the US line. The European Union is the leading trading partner of both Israel and Palestine. We provide finance for a great many things in the two countries. It’s time we made clear how we believe this conflict could be resolved in a sustainable and permanent fashion. If Koenders is truly in favour of a two-state solution, then he must understand that we that we have to recognise both sides, and not just Israel.”

The SP’s initiative at the party’s pre-election congress did not go unnoticed by the Palestinians themselves. “Of course I immediately informed the Palestinian Parliament of our resolution,” says Kox. “The Palestinians also have observer status in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, of which I am a member, so I know them well, and delegation head Bernard Sabella, wrote back straight away and had this to say”:

On behalf of my colleagues in the Delegation of Palestine to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and of PLC Members and Secretariat I extend friendly appreciation and thanks to the Congress of the Socialist Party of the Netherlands for its call upon the government of the Netherlands to immediately recognize the State of Palestine.

We appreciate your efforts and those of others in the Netherlands to ensure that the two-state solution remains the option out of the political impasse created by expansion of existing and construction of illegal settlements and by the hard and extreme positions of not only settler leaders but also some Ministers in the current Israeli government. The just concluded Paris conference and its call for a two- state solution, as you yourself recall gives us hope that the consensus of the international community would eventually prevail.”

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