After protests, Amsterdam OKs trilateral pact with Tel Aviv, Ramallah


AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Five months after scrapping a planned twinning agreement with Tel Aviv and Ramallah, the Dutch capital ratified a cooperation agreement with the two cities.

The accord was ratified Thursday night at the City Council of Amsterdam thanks to the support of all parties except the Socialist Party, which occupied six of the council’s 45 seats, the Het Parool daily reported.

The cooperation pact with Ramallah and Tel Aviv is a compromise over an original plan to sign a twinning agreement with both cities, which was initiated two years ago but encountered opposition from pro-Palestinian activists.

As a result, the twinning agreement was modified to include also Ramallah but even after that revision, Mayor Eberhard van der Laan removed the item from the voting agenda. His own Labor Party and several other factions objected to it, citing fears that it “might be perceived as an unbalanced approach” to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

Ronny Naftaniel, a former director of the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, which is the Dutch Jewish community’s main Israel-advocacy group, said he was pleased with the compromised.

“I am overjoyed that the cooperation between Amsterdam and Tel Aviv is now ratified, two years after my plan for a twinning,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Separately, van der Laan told Dutch media he intended to post police and justice ministry officials to monitor for potential hate speech  during the planned address of the Arab-Israeli lawmaker Hanin Zoabi at a Holocaust commemoration event next week.

Zoabi, who is under investigation in Israel for calling on Muslims last month to stage a “real intifada” in Jerusalem, is scheduled to speak about Israeli racism at an event commemorating the 1938 Kristallnacht pogroms against Jews. It was organized by a group whose members commemorated Hamas leaders.

An online petition that is being promoted by the anti-racism nonprofit Magenta, which calls on Dutch authorities to ban the gathering, has received several hundred signatures.

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