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Israel Reacts with Sadness and Sorrow over Holland’s Decision to Move Its Embassy to Tel Aviv

Israel reacted with “deep sorrow and sadness” today at Holland’s decision to move its embassy from Jerusalem, where it has been for 30 years, to Tel Aviv. The decision to move followed the United Nations Security Council resolution last week which censured Israel for its Jerusalem law and called on countries with embassies in Jerusalem to move them.

Holland, which was the only European country to have its embassy in Jerusalem, become the sixth country to make the move, following Venezuela, Uruguay, Ecuador, Chile and El Salvador. Costa Rica is now deliberating whether to move its embassy, too.

STATEMENT BY THE FOREIGN MINISTRY

A Foreign Ministry statement, drafted, it is understood at the highest level, recalled Holland’s record of saving Jews during World War II and expressed sadness at the fact that the Dutch government was now succumbing to Arab pressure.

“The government of Israel,” the statement said, “expresses a feeling of profound sympathy for the government and people of The Netherlands who have bowed to unwarranted interference in their relationship with Israel…. The relations… have been based on…mutual respect and deep friendship.

“The people of Israel will never forget the efforts made by innumerable Dutch women and men to save their Jewish fellow citizens under the Nazi occupation. It is therefore all the more sad for Israel to see such a brave and noble people being subjected to such cynical pressures….Israel is convinced that yielding to such pressures is a grave mistake, as many countries have learned to their cost in the past.” The statement concluded by reasserting Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s indivisible capital.

Avraham Sharir, chairman of the Likud, termed Holland’s move as “a disgraceful surrender to oil pressure on the part of our best friend in Europe. But the world today worships the god of oil.” There was no other immediate official reaction from government leaders.

However, Ammnon Rubinstein, of the Shai faction in the Knesset, told Israel Radio that the responsibility for Holland’s decision lay with the Israeli government and the opposition Labor Party which had allowed the Jerusalem law to be adopted by the Knesset. “It will take many years of patient work to put right the political damage Israel has suffered as a result of the law.” he said.

DUTCH GOVERNMENT EXPLAINS ITS MOVE

A statement issued by the Dutch government in The Hague today announcing its decision to move its embassy recalled it had previously regretted Israel’s “unilateral decision” to proclaim united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as an obstacle toward a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The statement also said that the Dutch government had resolved to move its embassy in line with its policy of implementing UN Security Council resolutions.

Holland had been under intense pressure from Arab countries for some time to move its embassy. In its statement today Holland expressed regret about the pressure, partly in the form of ultimatums that Dutch-Arab commerce would be severely affected, exerted on the government to move its embassy. Earlier this month, the Iraqi government presented an official letter to the Dutch ambassador in Baghdad demanding that the embassy be moved from Jerusalem “within a month” or Iraq would sever all diplomatic and economicties with Holland. Iraq only recently resumed relations with Holland and placed several large orders with Dutch companies.

The Dutch are expected to retain their consulate general in Jerusalem. Until now, the Dutch ambassador has served in the dual functions of ambassador and consul general, but with is departure for Tel Aviv the roles will have to be split.

(In New York, Maynard Wishner, president of the American Jewish Committee, said “It is sad to note that The Netherlands, one of Israel’s most stalwart friends, has felt impelled to move its embassy under the pressure of Arab oil power. This is a poignant demonstration of how necessary it is for nations like ours to develop as rapidly as possible the energy independence that makes this sort of international blackmail possible.”)

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