Emerging hardline Dutch coalition to look for right ‘time’ to move embassy to Jerusalem

Unprecedented language follows electoral gains of the anti-Islam, pro-Israel Party for Freedom of firebrand Geert Wilders; Holocaust education to be included in citizenship test

Leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) Geert Wilders waves as he arrives at a post-election meeting at the Nieuwspoort conference center in The Hague on November 23, 2023. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)
Leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) Geert Wilders waves as he arrives at a post-election meeting at the Nieuwspoort conference center in The Hague on November 23, 2023. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

In an advanced draft for a coalition agreement between four right-wing Dutch political factions, the partners agreed to look for the “appropriate time” for moving the embassy of the Netherlands to Jerusalem.

The draft agreement published Thursday morning follows the November general elections in the Netherlands, in which the pro-Israel, far-right Party for Freedom of Geert Wilders received the highest share of the vote with 37 seats out of 150 in the Dutch lower house.

The draft states that research will be conducted into “the appropriate time in which the move of the embassy to Jerusalem can occur.”

If the Netherlands does follow through, it will be the sixth country to open an embassy in Jerusalem, following Papua New Guinea, Kosovo, Honduras, Guatemala and the US. Israel sees the moves as strengthening its claim to the city as its capital, though most foreign countries situate their embassies in or around Tel Aviv.

The Jerusalem clause, which is unprecedented in coalition agreements in Western Europe, is one of multiple dramatic departures in the 26-page document from agreements undertaken in previous coalition contracts.

The agreement was announced amid a polarizing debate in Dutch society over violence by anti-Israel activists on the campus of the University of Amsterdam and beyond. Many view this violence, and the rise in antisemitic incidents triggered by Israel’s war with Hamas, as the result of a failed immigration policy and far-left indoctrination.

Dutch Police officers try to push demonstrators away from the Oudezijds Achterburgwal, gathered to support pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel students occupying UvA, in Amsterdam on May 8, 2024. (Ramon van Flymen / AFP)

The breakthrough in talks over a coalition led by the Party for Freedom occurred just three weeks before the June 9 European Parliament elections, in which many observers predict major gains for the right.

One clause on immigration in the draft agreement states that the Holocaust will be included in the integration exam, which anyone seeking Dutch citizenship needs to pass.

Another said Dutch asylum and immigration protocols would be reviewed. “Concrete steps will be taken towards the strictest ever entry rules for asylum and the most comprehensive ever package to control migration,” the agreement said.

The parties said they would file a request to the European Commission for an opt-out on European asylum policy “as soon as possible.”

People without a valid residence permit will be deported “by force if necessary,” said the report.

On foreign policy, the parties commit to keep the Netherlands as a “constructive partner” in the European Union and support Ukraine “politically, militarily, financially, and morally.”

The coalition partners of Wilders’ Party for Freedom are the center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy of caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte; the New Social Contract center-right party and the Farmer–Citizen Movement, a conservative party that was born out of protest against climate-relate policies.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, February 12, 2024 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The partners have not agreed on who will serve as the next prime minister.

Wilders, an anti-Islam firebrand who in 2016 was found guilty of inciting discrimination against Moroccans because he suggested the Netherlands wants “fewer” of them, is widely thought to have agreed not to preside as prime minister as per the conditions of some of his party’s future coalition partners.

A vocal supporter of Israel, Wilders had lived for a year in Moshav Tomer in Israel in his youth.

He has called for the Netherlands to move its embassy to Jerusalem for years, including in a speech in 2013 in Los Angeles before the American Freedom Alliance.

“Let us fly the flags of all the free and proud nations of the world over embassies in Jerusalem, the only true capital of Israel and the cradle of our Judeo-Christian civilization,” Wilders said.

Israel considers Jerusalem to be its capital, including East Jerusalem, which it annexed in 1980. The move has not been recognized by most of the international community, which says the final borders of the city should be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians.

Former US president Donald Trump moved his country’s embassy to Jerusalem in 2018 in what Israel hoped would lead to a flood of countries to follow suit, though that has yet to happen.

Most Popular
read more: