Restriction of movement of Palestinian workers through closure including the separation barrier has thrown thousands of them into unemployment since the onset of the second intifada in September 2000. (M. El Fassed-Vermeer)
Dutch NGO platform United Civilians for Peace (UCP) today publishes a research about “Dutch economic links in support of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and/or Syrian territories”. This research reveals that dozens of Dutch companies through their activities support or facilitate the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territories.
The investigation, which is presumably not exhaustive, identifies 35 Dutch companies that maintain direct or indirect relations with the occupation of Palestinian and/or Syrian territories: 21 companies with headquarters in the Netherlands and 14 Dutch subsidiaries of Israeli companies. Two of these companies have direct investments in settlements, namely Soda-Club International and Unilever.
The activities of these companies run counter to the answers that the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Ben Bot gave to the Dutch Parliament at the end of 2005. At that time, the Minister stated that he was unaware of any Dutch companies that invest in the occupied Palestinian territories or that have trade relations with companies located in Israeli settlements in these territories.
UCP contracted bureau Profundo to conduct the research in 2005 and 2006. UCP, a NGO platform in the Netherlands of six peace and development organizations, advocates a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in accordance with international law. In the view of UCP, international trade relationships with the occupation obstruct such a resolution, as they contribute to the economic viability of Israel’s settlements. The settlements, built in violation of international law, are a source of serious and systematic human rights violations that impact on every aspect of the daily lives of millions of Palestinians and a few thousand Syrians living under occupation. In addition, these settlements constitute a serious obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians: they fragment the Palestinian territories and make claim to fertile ground and water sources, thereby preventing a viable Palestinian state from being established.
UCP’s research report is now available in English, supplemented by a briefing document that explains why UCP conducted this research and how the Dutch Foreign Minister and the Dutch parliament deal with the issue of economic links with the settlements.