A major Dutch company announced Tuesday that it would discontinue all joint ventures with Israel’s national water supplier Mekorot, in protest against the Israeli company’s operations in the West Bank.
The announcement came less than a month and a half after the two companies signed a cooperation agreement for the future development of several projects.
According to Israel Radio, a spokesperson for Vitens, a company which provides water to 5.4 million people in the Netherlands, said the firm had come to the decision after consulting with Holland’s Foreign Ministry.
“The company concluded that it would be very difficult to develop joint ventures together, considering the fact that they cannot be seen as divorced from their political context,” a company statement said. ”We follow international law.”
Mekorot, which oversees some water supply to the Palestinian Authority as well, was unavailable for comment.
EU guidelines published in July mandate a denial of European funding to, and cooperation with, Israeli institutions based or operating over the Green Line, and a requirement that all future agreements between Israel and the EU include a clause in which Israel accepts the position that none of the territory over the Green Line belongs to Israel.
Last week, the UK Trade and Investment agency discouraged British firms from entering into business deals with companies located in or associated with West Bank settlements.
The agency warned businesses of the “clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements,” which are “illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible.”
The report urged firms contemplating economic or financial involvement in settlements to seek legal counsel on the matter, and also addressed the “potential reputational implications” that could result from dealing with businesses beyond the Green Line, as well as “possible abuses of the rights of individuals.”
Yifa Yaakov contributed to this report