Fifty-one per cent of the Dutch think there is apartheid in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. This finding comes from a Dutch survey carried out by I&O Research for the peace organisation PAX. Only six per cent disagree. The research shows that most Dutch people hold Israel and Hamas responsible for the persistence of the conflict, are opposed to the construction and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and expect the Dutch government to take action accordingly.
“This picture of how Dutch people view the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories has never been given before. Although many people only have limited knowledge of the situation, the results are striking as they show a huge gap between the Dutch government’s policy and the opinions of a cross-section of the Dutch population. According to the survey, the Dutch want the government to take a firmer stance on human rights abuses,” says Anna Timmerman, the General Director of PAX.
Apartheid in Israel and the Palestinian territories
The results of the survey show that half the Dutch population (51 per cent) feel there is apartheid in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, while six per cent think that is not the case. A larger proportion, 61 per cent, hold Israel entirely or mainly responsible for the fact that the conflict has persisted. Sixty per cent also see Hamas as one of the parties responsible for this. Anna Timmerman: “A notable finding is that young people in particular tend to see Israel as responsible, more so than Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.” Finally, most people think Israel should stop building and expanding settlements: 56 per cent agree with this statement and only 6 per cent disagree.
Government should take a firmer stance
In addition to views on responsibility and apartheid, respondents were also asked for their opinion of the Dutch government’s policy on Israel and Palestine. This showed that many Dutch people want the government to change its position: majorities (54 per cent and 57 per cent) want the government to take a firmer stance on human rights abuses by Israel and by Hamas respectively. Only small proportions (11 per cent and 8 per cent) disagree. Furthermore, 38 per cent of Dutch people think the government should impose sanctions on Israel if it continues to build and expand settlements — a percentage that increases to 44 per cent when it is pointed out that the settlements are illegal under international law. Eighteen per cent disagree. Finally, 40 per cent of Dutch people feel the Netherlands should stop collaborating with Israeli weapons manufacturers, while 15 per cent disagree with this statement.
The results show that the government’s policy seems to be lagging behind the views of the Dutch people. Half of all Dutch people, for example, think there is apartheid and want the government to do more to prevent human rights abuses and illegal settlements in the area. Given these results, PAX calls on the Dutch government to take more action and update its position.
PAX has been working in Israel and Palestine since the 1990s. We work with local peace activists to put an end to the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories and the continuing human rights violations in the area. We also work to combat the involvement of Dutch government bodies, companies and financial institutions in the settlement economy. You can find more information about PAX’s work in Israel and Palestine on this page.