Dutch policy on the situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories

Information about Dutch policy with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Netherlands’ position on the situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories since 7 October 2023.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the Netherlands supports a two-state solution

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been under way for decades. Each new outbreak of violence underlines the importance of finding a lasting solution. The Netherlands supports a two-state solution, with an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian state existing alongside a secure Israel.

What could a two-state solution look like?

A two-state solution will require Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to conclude a definitive peace agreement. The borders of 4 June 1967 (before the Six-Day War) form the starting point for such an agreement. The future Palestinian state would thus consist of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. A two-state solution will require clear agreements, particularly on the following issues that are currently an obstacle to the peace process.

Guarantees and negotiations

Israel and the future Palestinian state must each have security guarantees. Negotiations on Jerusalem and the refugee issue will also be needed. Many Palestinians who have fled what is now Israel during or since the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 (and their descendants) live in permanent refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and surrounding countries.

Israeli settlements

The Netherlands and many other countries view the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories as illegal. They are contrary to international law and pose a serious threat to the peace process. The Netherlands consistently calls Israel to account for this.

International relations

The Netherlands has a broad relationship with Israel, including economic and trade ties, and good relations with the Palestinian Authority. We are working to improve the situation in the Palestinian Territories. The Netherlands also hopes to help bring about a definitive solution to the conflict.

The Netherlands condemns the terrorist attack by Hamas

On 7 October 2023 Hamas carried out a terrorist attack against Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking about 200 people hostage. Victims were tortured and raped. The Netherlands condemns this terrorist attack in the strongest possible terms. The Dutch government feels deep sympathy for the victims, their families and everyone who was affected by the attack or who is still living in uncertainty about the fate of their loved ones. The hostages must be released immediately and unconditionally.

Israel has the right to defend itself

Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas, within the limits of international law. This means that the use of force for the purpose of self-defence:

  1. must be necessary. Israel’s actions must have no other aim than stopping Hamas’s armed attack and putting an end to the threat;
  2. must be proportionate. Israel’s counterattack must be in reasonable proportion to Hamas’s armed attack and threat. Civilian casualties must be avoided as much as possible.

Determining whether self-defence is necessary and proportionate is very complex. For this reason, the Netherlands believes that a proper independent investigation is needed to establish the facts. We also believe that Israel must actively show how it is ensuring that its self-defence remains necessary and proportionate.

The Netherlands condemns all violations of international humanitarian law

The Netherlands condemns all violations of international humanitarian law, regardless of who commits them. For example, international humanitarian law protects people who are not (or no longer) taking part in armed struggle, such as civilians or wounded combatants. Supporting the international legal order is an integral part of Dutch foreign policy. This is laid down in article 90 of the Dutch Constitution.

The Netherlands condemns the attacks by the terrorist organisation Hamas in the strongest possible terms, including deliberate massacres, missile strikes on Israeli cities (which make no distinction between military and civilian targets), and the use of civilians as human shields.

At the same time, the Netherlands emphasises that Israel’s actions must be in line with international law, including international humanitarian law, and in this connection we continue to urge Israel to act with demonstrable restraint.

It is initially up to the Israeli authorities to investigate possible violations of international humanitarian law. Only when it is clear that Israel cannot or will not do this can international criminal prosecution be an appropriate response. If this is the case, the Netherlands will refer to the investigation into all the parties that is currently being conducted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Netherlands underscores the importance of independent investigation, and to that end it has set aside an additional €3 million to boost the ICC's investigative capacity.

Both parties must protect civilians and allow humanitarian aid in

The spiral of violence since 7 October 2023 is impacting innocent Palestinians and Israelis. The Netherlands is urging both parties to the conflict to comply with international humanitarian law, avoid civilian casualties and facilitate the provision of much more humanitarian aid.

We are seriously concerned about the worsening situation for innocent civilians in Gaza and we are pressing for rapid and unrestricted access for humanitarian aid. The people of Gaza are in urgent need of water, food, medicines and fuel. To meet this need, immediate action must be taken, such as agreeing humanitarian corridors and humanitarian pauses. The Netherlands has stressed this to the parties involved and within the EU and the UN, and is continuing to do so.

The Netherlands supports the Palestinian Territories with humanitarian aid and development cooperation

The Netherlands supports the Palestinian Territories with humanitarian aid and development cooperation. Stopping this aid would further undermine stability in the West Bank, with consequences for Israeli and regional security. Since the outbreak of hostilities after 7 October the Netherlands has made over €55 million available in additional humanitarian aid.

The Netherlands seeks to prevent escalation in the region

The continuing attacks on Israel from southern Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, and the Israeli counterattacks, give cause for concern. To keep these problems from getting worse, it’s important to prevent the conflict spreading further to surrounding countries. To help avoid escalation the Netherlands is in close contact with other countries in the region.

The government on public reaction in the Netherlands

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict evokes strong feelings, in the Netherlands as elsewhere. The heartbreaking images from Israel and Gaza are having a big impact on many people. The Dutch authorities are working in all kinds of ways to prevent or reduce social tensions and antagonism between groups (polarisation). The government appreciates that people have strong feelings about this issue, and it shares the serious concerns about the situation that has developed over the years.