The Dutch government should be strongly congratulated on standing up for international law, and stopping five ‘mayors’ of illegal Israeli colonies on the West Bank from joining other Israeli mayors in taking part in a professional study tour in the Netherlands in October. All 40 mayors have since cancelled their trips. The Dutch approach is logical: these colonies are illegal and the authorities who oversee them are breaking international law and taking part in the continuing brutal occupation of Palestine. They should not be included in the accepted international network of communities.
Such checks to Israeli arrogance may seem small, but thousands of such actions will add up to a ringing international condemnation of terror. Israel has become accustomed to being the supreme military power in the region: its forces act without restraint; it arrests whoever it wants with little reference to law; and it continues programmes of collective punishment on the Palestinian civilian population with horrifying consequences. It feels that it can do what it wants without fear of retribution or consequence.
As part of this arrogance, the Netanyahu government has a policy of continuing to support the illegal colonies. As it goes through the motions of the direct talks with the Palestinians, it is not talking of withdrawing from any Palestinian land, nor is it talking of knocking down any buildings. In fact, it is talking of ending the moratorium and starting to build yet more colonies.
In response to this situation, 180 Palestinian organisations and unions have called for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Apartheid Israel. This BDS movement deserves widespread support and all people should be encouraged to join in. The Trades Union Congress in Britain passed some powerful motions in support of the BDS movement at its annual meeting this week. Around the world, people in all walks of life have the opportunity to show they reject Israel’s occupation.