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Mark Rutte' Israeli business mission forum includes businesses from West Bank

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On Tuesday, NLTimes reported that the Netherlands-Israeli business mission forums will include five Israeli companies that have ties to the unlawfully Israeli ruled West Bank. The mission is led by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his Foreign Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans. They are scheduled to finalize the deal during their visit to Israel, which will be from December 7 until December 9. The forums are focused on creating 'economic cooperation' between the Netherlands and Israel. The talks will take place in Israel and the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

"This is incomprehensible and unacceptable," Dr. Ashrawi said. "The official policy of the Dutch government is to discourage economic relations of Dutch companies with settlements. How can the Dutch government establish a cooperation forum with Israel which facilitates these relations and effectively supports the settlement economy?"

By including the five Israeli companies, Rutte and Timmermans could possibly be violating the European Union's guidelines of working with companies that are illegally active in the West Bank. The Netherlands also has its own policy of discouraging Dutch companies from having business relations with companies who operate beyond the Green Line, of demarcation. “The policy of discouragement means that the Dutch government addresses Dutch companies regarding conducting activities in or in the interest of Israeli settlements. The Dutch government does not have the authority to address or control Israeli companies,” stated a spokesperson from the Dutch Foreign Ministry.

Last week, the Netherlands was stripped of its top crediting rating by Standard & Poor's. On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that ING Groep NV (INGA), the Netherlands largest financial company, also had its crediting rating reduced by S&P. The Netherlands, the fifth largest economy in Europe, crediting rating was reduced by S&P due to "a weaker outlook." Even with the downgrade by S&P, the Netherlands has maintained top ratings at Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings. Since the beginning of the global financial crisis, the Netherlands has gone through three recessions. The talks in Israel could be seen as the Dutch government exploring different cash flow avenues to find a way to help re-stabilize its economy.

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