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Dutch premier's Israel trip hit by Gaza row
Published Monday 09/12/2013 (updated) 09/12/2013 15:13
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Trucks cross into Rafah through the Kerem Shalom crossing
between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on September 22,
2013.(AFP/File Said Khatib)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- A visit to Israel by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte Sunday was marred by a dispute over a new security scanner on the Gaza border, an Israeli official said.

Rutte was to have inaugurated the scanner on the border with the Gaza Strip, but the ceremony was put off because of the row.

"Installation of the Dutch scanner, which would have been used to verify the contents of containers from Gaza destined for export, was postponed after the Netherlands made unexpected demands," the Israeli official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Technically, there is no problem about the scanner at the Kerem Shalom crossing through which goods originating in Gaza pass," the official said.

"But the Dutch suddenly imposed political conditions, notably on the percentage of merchandise destined for the West Bank or abroad.

"These are political issues that need to be resolved at the highest level, which will delay the start-up of the scanner."

Media reports said the row meant the ceremony at the crossing originally due for Sunday, with Rutte present, was cancelled.

The focus of the dispute is exports from Gaza to the West Bank, which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel's defense ministry wants to isolate the two Palestinian regions, while Dutch officials had hoped the scanner might boost commerce between them, the media reports said.

However, at a meeting with Rutte, Netanyahu insisted that Israel's only motive for screening shipments from Gaza was security.

"We welcome the bringing of scanners to make sure that at least we control the material that goes in and out of Gaza," Netanyahu's office quoted him as saying in response to a question from a Dutch journalist.

"It can facilitate right now the screening of goods that go out to the European markets. We want to make sure that goods that go out from there, from Gaza, do not reach the Palestinian Authority areas."

There was also a diplomatic spat Sunday in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, traveling with Rutte, cancelled a planned event rather than accept an Israeli military escort, a Dutch foreign ministry official said.

Timmermans had planned to visit Palestinians in the southern West Bank city of Hebron's old center.

"It was the minister himself who decided to cancel that part of the visit," Ahmed Dadou, a spokesman for Timmermans told AFP in The Hague.

"It's normal to be accompanied by the Israeli military in the part occupied by settlers but it's not usual in the Palestinian part," he said.

"Other foreign ministers have previously visited the city unaccompanied by Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian sector and Mr. Timmermans did not want to accept this new condition in order not to set a precedent."

Netanyahu said that he had not known of the planned visit.

"These are not political directives," his office quoted him as saying. "I do not know how we guard foreign dignitaries on visits."

"We have security details that do what is necessary. Minister Timmermans is a welcome guest."

Timmermans instead visited a Palestinian dairy in another part of the city, the West Bank's biggest, where about 700 Jewish settlers live under Israeli army protection surrounded by nearly 200,000 Palestinians.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel since 2006.

The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.
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1 ) Mel / USA
09/12/2013 17:05
Timmermans & Rutte are essentially businessmen.But AT LEAST they have the savvy to back-off from deepening Dutch collusion with Israel-Zionist ILLEGAL military occupation & attrition/blockade of 1.8 MILLION civilians in Gaza,seen globally as Israeli WAR CRIMES.If all Palestine was free,including Gaza,& commerce traffic briefly crossed legal Israeli land,then scanners would be acceptable as "security".But while Jewish-supremacism is an invader/occupier,the Dutch shouldn't be APPEASING that,too!

2 ) Bob Hope / USA
09/12/2013 18:37
It was a ''state-of-the-art security scanner'', but is no longer suitable for the sophisticated, hard-to-detect bombs, newly developed by the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in Arabia (AQAP), and made of non-metallic and low-vapor explosives disguised as harmless objects like shoes, clothing or soft drink bottles which are now able to fool ''state-of-the-art'' international airport and border post scanners. Israel will now need to develop a new generation of scanners to sell to the Dutch, and the world.

3 ) Mel / USA
09/12/2013 18:50
Of course,the whole idea of these Dutch going to the border of Israeli-blockaded Gaza,escorted by Israeli military,in the first place,was really STUPID! But,of course that shouldn't STOP same said Dutch men from visiting INSIDE Gaza,at leisure,to see where dairies ARE BOMBED by Israel,& nearly 2 MILLION men,women&(mainly)children are persecuted by 'poor-old-victim',Zionist Israel.Don't go to the PERSECUTORS! Go to the PERSECUTED!

4 ) Carlos / USA
09/12/2013 20:59
Mel/USA thinks so clearly. I am always impressed with his thoughts.

5 ) Carson / Australia
10/12/2013 05:59
Carlos, are you serious? Mel lies quite often and anyone who refers to Israelis as Nazis is absolutely disgusting. She whines about the occupation but never mentions WHY it's there. She whines about the blockade of Gaza but never asks WHY it's there.

6 ) Bob / USA
10/12/2013 08:45
@4 I am more impressed with his Israeli medication, that he is sadly required to take for his condition.
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