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Dutch FM: Recognizing Palestine won’t promote peace

Bert Koenders says move ‘should be introduced at a strategic moment’ and as part of peace negotiations

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)
Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Netherlands will not recognize Palestinian statehood right now because it would not help restart peace talks with Israel, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said.

Koenders, who replaced fellow Labor politician Frans Timmermans last month, rejected the possibility of recognizing a Palestinian state in the near future during a debate in parliament.

“We believe this is not an advisable measure,” Koenders said on November 19 during the annual plenary debate on his ministry’s budget and policy. The transcript of the debate was released this week.

“We find that is not correct to recognize the Palestinian state. It must be a part of negotiations. In that sense, it should be introduced at a strategic moment,” he said.

Koenders conceded that recognition of Palestinian statehood has gained traction in Europe following the Swedish government’s decision to do so and the passing of nonbinding motions favoring the move by Britain’s House of Commons and Ireland’s upper house. He also mentioned a text passed by the Spanish congress that favored recognition only after Israel and the Palestinians reach a permanent agreement.

But “the overwhelming majority, including the Dutch government, believes that it does not contribute to the priority issue of restarting negotiations, if we all of a sudden go ahead [and recognize a Palestinian state] because Sweden also did it,” Koenders said.

He also said that attempts to restart peace talks between the parties are complicated by Israeli construction beyond its 1967 borders — deemed illegal by the European Union — and because “the Palestinians are more divided than ever before, which makes negotiations very difficult.”

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