Amsterdam abandons sister city agreement with Tel Aviv

Dutch mayor yields to pro-Palestinian pressure; coincidentally, low-cost flight route linking the cities announced

A canal in Amsterdam (Rachael Cerrotti/Flash90)
A canal in Amsterdam (Rachael Cerrotti/Flash90)

A plan to link the cities of Amsterdam and Tel Aviv as twin towns was canceled Thursday after pro-Palestinian groups pressured the Dutch capital’s mayor into backtracking on his proposal.

Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard Van der Laan, who attended Tel Aviv’s annual gay pride parade earlier this month, had expressed on several occasions his admiration of the White City, its tolerance toward the LGBTQ community and its booming startup scene.

But after announcing his intention to tighten connections between the two cities, the mayor came under a firestorm of criticism from local left-wing parties and pro-Palestinian activists, Channel 2 reported Thursday.

In an attempt to assuage mounting disapproval, Van der Laan tried to push a compromise by which Amsterdam would also become a sister city of the Palestinian metropolis of Ramallah.

Eberhard Van der Laan (Wikipedia)
Eberhard Van der Laan (Wikipedia)

But his compromise proposal failed to ease tensions, and on Thursday he announced he was revoking the proposal.

Van der Laan said he would still work to advance cooperation between the cities, but did not make clear what form such cooperation would take, Channel 2 reported.

Coincidentally, the decision came the same day as an announcement by British low-cost airline EasyJet that it would begin operating a new Tel Aviv-Amsterdam route.

The airline said one-way fares would start at less than 50 euros ($55).

The Netherlands’ ambassador to Israel Caspar Veldkamp hailed the new flight route, telling financial newspaper Globes that the connection “would provide yet another boost to our strong ties.”

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