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Dutch gov't commissioned B'Tselem to write critique of Israel high court: report

Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019 photo, shows a new housing project in a West Bank settlement after AP report details Israel's emboldened settlement construction under US President Trump
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit

The Dutch government reportedly commissioned and financed a report from Israeli left-wing NGO B’Tselem detailing the ways Israel’s supreme court decisions on the legality of Jewish settlements in the West Bank have enabled Israel’s ‘occupation’ of Palestinian land and violations of their rights.

According to a written agreement obtained by Israel Hayom newspaper, the Dutch government gave B’Tselem no less than 176,000 euros (approximately $200,000) toward writing the report, which was released by the left-wing NGO last week.

Under the heading, “Expulsion of Palestinian Communities from their Land,” the “pilot case” is focused on “the role of the Supreme Court in the expulsion of the Palestinian communities (in the West Bank), focusing mainly on the Jordan Valley, the southern Hebron hills and the Ma’aleh Adumim area.”

From the Dutch government’s position, the agreement says “the situation [in Israel] of human rights developments, rights of women, the most serious violations and freedom of expression are all under pressure.”

It went on to state that B’Tselem’s mission as a non-governmental Palestinian human rights organization based in Israel “feeds very well into the Dutch priority of supporting ‘change agents.’”

B'Tselem -- which most Israelis consider a far-left group for its calls to “end Israel’s occupation” -- is frequently the target of condemnation by Israel’s government and some citizens who view the organization as hostile to the Jewish state.

B'Tselem and Al-Haq

The agreement between B’Tselem and the Dutch government reportedly stipulated that the NGO’s analysis must “regularly refer to” Israel’s highest legal authority as a facilitator of the “occupation.”

“B’Tselem will regularly refer to the Supreme Court as one of the main systems that enables the continued occupation and violations of human rights by granting judicial legitimacy to Israeli policy,” the document says.

The Israeli government recently took a public stance against B'Tselem after the United Nations invited the human rights group to address the UN Security Council in October. Israel’s ambassador to the UN called the invitation “shameful.”

B'Tselem's Executive Director Hagai El-Ad spoke to the UN Security Council in a speech critical of various Israeli policies regarding the Palestinians and urged the international community that the time had come for action on the Palestinian situation.

Monday’s report comes just a day after the Netherlands is said to have changed its policy on how Palestinians with Dutch and European documentation are allowed to register their official birthplace.

Palestinians born after the establishment of the state of Israel on May 15, 1948 will soon be permitted to list their birthplace as “the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, or East Jerusalem,” Dutch State Secretary Raymond Knops reportedly told the House of Representatives in The Hague on Friday, according to Haaretz.

Despite the UN and some 136 countries independently recognizing a Palestinian state, the norm in the European Union (EU) has been to await such status within an established peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

The move is another progressive step taken by the Dutch government, since it decided to add “unknown” as a birthplace option for Palestinians in 2014, who previously had no choice but to register themselves as born in Israel.


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