JERUSALEM (Jul. 17)
The ongoing Palestinian uprising and the unsettled future status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip cast a shadow Sunday over the official welcome for Premier Ruud Lubbers of the Netherlands and Foreign Minister Hans van den Brock.
Lubbers is the first Dutch prime minister to pay an official visit to Israel. He and van den Broek were received by Premier Yitzhak Shamir at ceremonies in the Rose Garden facing the Prime Minister’s Office.
Shamir stressed the friendship between the Dutch and Jewish people going back to the 15th century, when Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition took refuge in the Low Countries.
He recalled how more recently, the Dutch people sheltered Jews from Nazi persecution, and later showed unstinting support for Israel in the early years of its statehood.
Lubbers, too, recalled the old days and expressed regret that Holland finds it difficult now to back Israel as much as it would like to in the international arena. He referred to the troubles in the administered territories.
TO MEET WITH PALESTINIANS
His visit was originally planned to coincide with Israel’s 40th anniversary celebrations in May. It was twice postponed, partly because of Dutch displeasure over Israel’s handling of the Palestinian uprising.
For a time, the trip was in doubt. When Lubbers decided to make it, he asked the foreign minister to accompany him so that both of them could explain Holland’s position to the Israelis.
Van den Brock is scheduled to meet with 15 prominent Palestinian leaders Monday at the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem. He also will visit the Kalandiya refugee camp.
The diplomatic talks here will center on Dutch criticism of Israeli policies, which already has had ramifications in Europe.
The Netherlands, long one of the most pro-Israel of the Western European countries, did not stand up for Israel when the Parliament of Europe in Strasbourg recently refused to ratify Israel’s trade agreements with the 12 European Community nations.
VISAS POLICY ON AGENDA
Other issues on the agenda here include the Israeli Cabinet’s recent decision to issue visas only to those Soviet Jews committed to settling in Israel, and the imminent arrival of an Israeli consular delegation in Moscow.
Both of those developments affect the Netherlands. The Dutch have represented Israeli interests in the USSR since 1967, when the Russians broke diplomatic relations with Israel.
Jews seeking to leave the Soviet Union with Israeli visas had to obtain them at the Dutch Embassy in Moscow. In the future, they will be issued at the Israel Embassy in Bucharest, Romania.
The Israeli consular delegation will work in Moscow under the Dutch flag. Because of Holland’s role in Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union, one of Lubbers’ first meetings in Jerusalem was with a group of ex-refuseniks.
(JTA correspondent Henrietta Boas in Amsterdam contributed to this report.)