Statement by Prime Minister Rutte after speaking with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

I just spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. In both these conversations I stressed the importance of ending the fighting as soon as possible, and expressed my support for mediation efforts by Egypt and the United Nations in order to reach a ceasefire.

The Netherlands stands ready to help, using our good ties with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Egypt and other neighbouring countries. As a follow-up to these conversations and earlier contacts with partners in the region, Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok will contact his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry and possibly other foreign ministers in the region. The Netherlands will also be in further contact with the United States.  A further escalation and more civilian casualties among Palestinians and Israelis must be prevented. I am concerned that more and more civilians, including many children, are falling victim to the violence. I expressed my sympathy to both leaders for the victims on both sides. I condemned the rocket attacks on Israel. Israel has the right to defend itself against these attacks, but precisely because it is a strong country, it also has a responsibility to act proportionately within the bounds of international law. 

In both these conversations I also expressed my concerns about the situation in the West Bank, and asked both leaders to do their best to prevent further confrontations there. I also spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas about the events leading up to the fighting, including the situation in Jerusalem. In addition, I urged that the Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah under threat of eviction be allowed to remain in their homes permanently. I called upon the parties concerned to respect the status quo at the holy sites and to involve Jordan in efforts to this end. I spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu about ways of reducing tensions between groups in Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Abbas and I underscored how important it is that all political and social leaders refrain from making any statements that could further enflame tensions.