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Dutch water firm cuts Israel ties after tense PM visit
Published Wednesday 11/12/2013 (updated) 12/12/2013 22:23
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Palestinians fill bottles and containers with water in Khan Yunis refugee
camp in the southern Gaza Strip on Oct. 27, 2009 (AFP/File Said Khatib)
THE HAGUE (AFP) -- Dutch water supplier Vitens has ended a partnership with Israeli water company Mekorot due to the "political context", the Dutch company said on Wednesday.

The abrupt decision comes days after a visit to the Mekorot offices in Israel by the Netherland's trade minister Lilianne Ploumen was abruptly cancelled.

In a statement, Vitens said it had come to the conclusion that it was "extremely hard" to work with Mekorot on future projects "because they cannot be taken out of the political context."

The company visit was part of a larger tour of Israel by Prime Minister Mark Rutte that was marred by a dispute over a Dutch-made security scanner on the Gaza border.

Rutte was to have inaugurated the scanner on the frontier with the strip, but the ceremony was broken off.

The focus of the dispute is trade between Gaza and 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.

Mekorot, which provides water to Israeli towns and to Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, has been accused by Dutch media of denying water access to Palestinians.

According to the World Bank, a third of Palestinian territories are cut off from the Israeli water system and Israelis draw out a far bigger share of the water supply than agreed in the 1995 Oslo 2 accord.

Israeli deputy Foreign minister Zeev Elkin said he was "blindsided" by the pullout "and a few more European companies have made similar decisions in the past months, which have blindsided us exactly in parallel with the peace process.”

In talks last week, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians signed a historic water-sharing initiative at the World Bank that could protect water resources in the region amid rising demand.

The deal will see Israel, working through Mekorot, boosting its annual sales of water to the Palestinian Authority by 20-30 million cubic meters a year, up from the current level of 52 million cubic meters.

Zeev, speaking to Israeli military radio, said that peace initiatives should mean "that people don’t breathe down our neck", but "unfortunately this doesn’t work."

Vitens said the decision to end the Mekorot tie-up was made after conferring with the Dutch foreign ministry and other "concerned parties".
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1 ) Sarah / The Netherlands
12/12/2013 14:03
Good!!

2 ) Sylvester / The Netherlands
12/12/2013 20:39
I totally support the decision of Vitens. It is good that companies are increasingly willing to take these decisions!!

3 ) Meantime ISRAEL ACCEPTED FULL / MEMBER IN CERN
12/12/2013 20:51
The 21 state in this high physics research organization in EUROPE http://home.web.cern.ch/about/updates/2013/12/cern-admit-israel-first-new-member-state-1999 Following a resolution unanimously adopted at today’s 169th session of the CERN Council, CERN is set to admit Israel as the Organization’s 21st Member State

4 ) Ben Alofs / UK/Netherlands
12/12/2013 20:58
Vitens made the right decision. No association with companies that are involved in Palestine's occupation.

5 ) southparkbear / usa
12/12/2013 22:25
israel being the number one expert in water resources management can pick partners from a long long long list of awaiting companies

6 ) Hetty / The Netherlands
13/12/2013 23:28
Southparkbear/usa: This illegal state can do but this long list as you think it is will soon become very short! Count on this!

7 ) Sander / The Netherlands
14/12/2013 19:11
Vitens made the right decision, Hope more Dutch companies shall follow. Vitens Hulde !

8 ) Colin Wright / USA
14/12/2013 23:00
To southparkbear #5: 'Israel...can pick partners from a long long long list of awaiting companies.' 's okay. This would have been apartheid South Africa's song -- in about 1975. Still plenty of partners. You're moving right along; a few years back, you were about where South Africa was in 1965. So stay the course, Israel. I'm ENCOURAGING you. No second thoughts, now. Keep headin' down that tunnel. That light is NOT an oncoming train. Trust me.
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