Swiss government, Dutch lawmakers denounce boycotts of Israel


(JTA) — The federal Swiss government and the Dutch parliament separately issued statements condemning boycotts of Israel.

In Switzerland, the Federal Council — the country’s seven-man federal government — issued a statement Monday that said the council “is of the opinion that urging organizations or people to commit to a commercial boycott is not a constructive measure.”

In the Netherlands, the lower house passed a motion Tuesday calling on the government “to indicate in a visible and convincing way that it encourages relations between Dutch and Israeli businesses and institutions” because “economic cooperation promotes peace, security, stability in the region.”

The Swiss council was replying to a query submitted by Hans Fehr, a lawmaker from Zurich serving on the National Council, the Swiss lower house. He queried the Federal Council after calls by members of the Swiss Green Party for a boycott of Israel. He said their calls were reminiscent of Holocaust-era boycotts of Jewish shops.

In the Netherlands, a majority of 115 lawmakers out of 150 passed the motion in favor of economic ties with Israel. The motion had been submitted by lawmakers Kees van der Staaij of the Reformed Political Party and Joel Voordewind of the Christian Union.

The lawmakers submitted the motion following reports that the Dutch Foreign Ministry had advised Dutch companies to refrain from cooperating with Israeli businesses because of their involvement in projects beyond the Green Line.

In December, the Dutch water company Vitens pulled out of a joint project with its Israeli counterpart, Mekorot, because of its work in eastern Jerusalem.

In September, the Dutch engineering firm HaskoningDHV pulled out of an infrastructure project in eastern Jerusalem, reportedly under pressure from the Dutch Foreign Ministry, which has stated it has a “policy of discouragement” for Dutch businesses regarding projects in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.

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