Europe

Dutch Parliament Votes to End Gov. Funding of Anti-Israel Boycotters

The Dutch parliament passed a non-binding motion to end government funding for organizations that call for a boycott of Israel, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported Thursday.

The motion was co-signed by three lawmakers, one of whom is a prominent member of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), the Netherlands’ largest party. It urged the government to stop funding groups that promote the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.

“Parliament requests the government to end as soon as possible direct or indirect funding for organizations which, according to their mission statements or activities, work to achieve or promote a boycott of Israel, and especially for those organizations that play a leading role,” read the motion, which was drafted by Kees van der Staaij of the Reformed Political Party.

The two other co-signatories were the Christian Union party’s Joel Voordewind and VVD’s Han Ten Broeke, who is the spokesman for the parliament commission on foreign affairs and chair of the defense committee.

The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), a pro-Israel group based in The Hague, stated on their site that funding BDS “contradicts the policy of the [Dutch] government, which has declared itself to be against BDS.”

The vote exposed a division in the governing coalition. Bert Koenders, the Dutch foreign minister and member of Dutch Labor, said last month that “The Dutch line is that the government is opposed to boycotts of Israel, but advertising BDS falls under freedom of expression.” However, advocates of anti-BDS measures in the United States have previously noted that cutting ties with such groups does not present a challenge to free speech because private parties are still free to boycott Israel, but the government may be obligated to avoid promoting or supporting discriminatory boycotts based on religion, race, or nationality.

Foreign investment in Israel has nearly tripled since the BDS campaign was formally launched by Palestinian groups in 2005, hitting a record high of $285.12 billion last year.

The BDS campaign attempts to delegitimize and isolate Israel in an effort to advance Palestinian interests, and many of its leaders have publicly affirmed that they seek Israel’s destruction. BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti, an opponent of the two-state solution, said in 2014 that Palestinians have a right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance,” while leading activist As’ad Abu Khalil acknowledged in 2012 that “the real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel.”

[Photo: Markus Bernet / WikiCommons ]