Former Dutch Ambassador Calls for Sanctions if Israel Refuses to Comply with International Law

Some weeks ago I heard Jan Wijenberg, a retired Dutch Ambassador, speak about what the International Community could do to break with its complicity to the ongoing violations of international law and human rights by the Israeli regime. Wijenberg served over a decade as an ambassador for the Dutch government in Jemen, Tanzania and Saudi Arabia. He regularly writes to Dutch ministers and politicians to remind them of the responsibility of the international community, and specifically of the Dutch Government and the European Union, to hold Israel accountable to international law. His views are expressed in this article.

Israel is the problem

Quite often is spoken about the conflict in the Middle East between the Palestinians and Israel. If we look at the situation more closely we can observe something different. The media in Israel provide a platform for unpunished, insane calls for murdering peoples and a nation. An example is offered by Professor Arnon Sofer talking about Palestinians living in closed-off Gaza, “…those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam… So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day. If we don’t kill we will cease to exist…..”1

In 2005 Ehud Barak stated on Dutch television2 that - in a secret and illegal retaliatory campaign against the Palestinian hostage takers at the Munich Olympic Winter Games - he personally had murdered thirteen innocent citizens. According to Barak this would teach the world not to fool around with Israel. Barak was and is not prosecuted for premeditated murder and could achieve the position of the country’s prime minister.

Among the settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories are opportunists and extremely violent Israeli’s who aim to occupy East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The Palestinians must be driven out of these territories by all means possible, including murder. The government of Israel supports the settlers in full while they lay there hands on Palestinian property and act out their violence on Palestinians.

The annexation of East Jerusalem by Ehud Olmert while he was the mayor of West-Jerusalem can according to the Fourth Geneva Convention be interpreted as a war crime. After the last elections in Israel Ehud Olmert’s Kadima party won the vote and he is now the Prime Minister of Israel.

Israeli policies are driven by the Zionist ideal of creating a Jewish state, including the Palestinian territories. Israel is aiming systematically at destroying the identity of the Palestinian people. The so called “conflict in the Middle East” between Palestinians and Israel does not exist. Zionist Israel is the problem.

Rogue state

Israel is the world’s sole remaining occupying colonial power. It systematically sabotages all international efforts to end the occupation. In its capacity of occupying power Israel violates numerous obligations emanating from Security Council Resolutions and the Geneva Conventions. It also breaches the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The USA applies a doctrine and the US-administration labels selected countries as ‘Rogue states’. These countries possess weapons of mass destruction illegally, suppress large populations, torture, keep people in detention on a large scale and commit murder outside their national borders. Israel has adopted as a strategy the execution of land and water grabs, the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure (including in education and health), the carrying out of extraterritorial executions, torture, and collective punishments and keeping thousands of Palestinians imprisoned indefinitely without charge or prosecution. On the basis of the definition by the USA, Israel has ever since its establishment been a monumental Rogue state and a highly active member of the Axis of Evil.

Letter to Dutch ministers

In February Wijenberg wrote to the ministers Bot, van Ardenne-van der Hoeven and Nicolaï, ministers of Foreign Affairs, Development Co-operation and State Secretary of European Affairs respectively. He reminded them that according to article 90 of the Dutch Constitution “The government nurtures the development of the international order of law”. So many previous Dutch governments violated this article when it concerns the Middle East. With referral to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004 Wijenberg calls upon the Dutch ministers to show the world that they are serious about international law, justice and democracy. A copy of the letter was sent to the prime minister Balkenende and the minister of Justice Donner. In his view the United States and the European Union - including the Netherlands - have for too long condoned Israels disrespect for international law.

In its response the ministry of Foreign Affairs replies that the Dutch government is actively engaged in an ongoing dialogue with Israel. Wijenberg questions this policy. “”Since when do we politely ask notorious violaters of international law to stop their daily terrorisation of the Palestinian civilians, with assassinations in broad daylight and theft of property, houses, land and water? Why aren’t the harshest peaceful means used to fight this?”

Cal for sanctions

In the view of Wijenberg the European Union and the Netherlands have become an instrument of Israels foreign policy by ignoring its own core values values and respect for international law and human rights. Europe can play a key role in achieving lasting peace for Israel and its neighbours. If Israel refuses to show respect for international law, heavy sanctions against Israel should be installed.

Adri Nieuwhof is an independent consultant and human rights advocate from the Netherlands.


[1] The Jerusalem Post, Up Front weekend supplement (21 May 2004)

[2] NOVA (15 December 2005)