Rutte and Timmermans press for de-escalation of Gaza conflict
Prime Minister Mark Rutte and foreign minister Frans Timmermans this weekend urged their counterparts in the Middle East to seek a de-escalation of the conflict in Gaza.
In their respective telephone conversations with Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, Mr Rutte and Mr Timmermans reaffirmed that the Netherlands recognises Israel’s right to defend itself. At the same time, they noted that de-escalation is now of paramount importance and that negotiation efforts to establish a ceasefire – such as those being pursued by Egypt and Turkey – must be given a chance to succeed.
In his conversation with the Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki, Mr Timmermans also pressed for de-escalation and indicated that the Netherlands is prepared to provide humanitarian aid if necessary. He also spoke with the Turkish and Egyptian foreign ministers, urging them to use their influence on the parties involved in order to secure a ceasefire. In preparation for the EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels tomorrow, Mr Timmermans also spoke with his British and German counterparts, William Hague and Guido Westerwelle and advocated a joint EU response to the Gaza crisis.