Today, the Mayor of The Hague, Wim Deetman, issued a press statement in which it is clarified that the mayor “is obliged to do justice to the constitutional rights to freedom of expression of demonstrators from various parties and that he intends to do so. At the same time he must also ensure the safety of all of those present and oversee the passing of the demonstrations in an orderly manner.”
On Saturday, the mayor told Dutch TV that the Israeli embassy is contradicting his responsibility to maintain public order during the oral hearings of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the wall this week. The Israeli embassy has been coordinating protests and provided the pictures of 927 Israeli victims of suicide bombings to the Zionist-Christian organizations “Christenen voor Israel”. Deetman argued that the provocative use of pictures will disrupt public order.
The press statement explains that the mayor has the power to impose requirements and restrictions in relation to demonstrations for the sake of safety and in order to prevent disorder. In other words, he “may use such measures to prevent any threat to safety and public order, as any such threat would also impinge upon the scope for such demonstrations to be held.”
Given this background, Deetman was “unpleasantly surprised” by the intention of the Dutch Zionist organization “Christenen voor Israel” to carry photographs which, whether rightly or wrongly were capable of “engendering emotions of a provocative nature,” during a demonstration march. The Mayor made public his surprise at that intention last Saturday, 21 February.
In doing so, Deetman added only the factual, undisputed information that he had been informed by “Christenen voor Israel”, amongst others, that the Israeli Embassy in The Hague had “inspired” them to carry those photographs.
Both in Israel and beyond, there have been furious responses to comments that were wrongly attributed to Mayor Deetman. According to a press release issued by the Municipality of The Hague, Mayor Deetman rejects those responses unreservedly.
Also today, Deetman wrote a letter to Uri Lupolianski, the mayor of the Israeli Jewish municipality of Jerusalem, in which Deetman thanked him for his invitation to visit Jerusalem. Deetman wrote: “As a colleague, you will understand that in this matter I must properly balance the various interests that are currently involved. To this end I would refer you to the press release that I issued today.”
Since as a mayor, Deetman will not be involving himself in the legal proceedings currently under consideration by the International Court of Justice he could not accept the invitation to visit Jerusalem “in connection with those legal proceedings.”
He wrote: “It goes without saying that the proceedings do not leave me unmoved. Partly for this reason, I feel offended by the objectionable condemnations made in response to comments that have been wrongly attributed to me.”