Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said goods can’t flow from Gaza to the West Bank “for security reasons.”
He was speaking Sunday with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte who is on a 3-day visit to the Palestinian Territories and Israel.
Rutte was expected to attend at the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza a ceremony of dedication of a new high tech container scanner donated by his country but it was cancelled after Israel decided not to allow the scanner to be used for scanning goods moving from Gaza to the West Bank and from the West Bank to Gaza.
Netanyahu said: “we welcome the bringing in of scanners to make sure that at least we control the material that goes in and out of Gaza. But our concern is security. It is not to prevent prosperity. It’s to enable prosperity without undertaking impossible security challenges. The Dutch scanner I think is an important contribution to that. It’s already there. It can facilitate right now the screening of goods that go out to the European markets. We want to make sure that goods that go from there, from Gaza, do not contain weapons or explosives that can reach the Palestinian Authority areas,” Netanyahu said.
He continued, “I think it’s very important for us to make sure that what comes out of Gaza is not used for war materiel. For example, we just discovered a tunnel. The tunnel had 700 tons of concrete – 700 tons of concrete into one tunnel. We think there are at least another 15-20 tunnels like that. So we allow them to bring concrete and then they use it for tunnels that are used for kidnapping or attacks against us.”
Rutte said “we as Netherlands are fully aware of the security concerns of Israel; we will always be.”
The Dutch Prime Minister is in Israel with three cabinet ministers and representatives of 60 Dutch companies.
He signed with his Israeli counterpart a document that established “the Netherlands Israel Cooperation Forum.” “The Netherlands is open for business,” Rutte said.
The forum provides a framework to cultivate private sector initiatives, particularly in technology, agriculture and energy, and to enhance the political dialogue.
The Dutch government delegation is accompanied by a total of four business delegations. One delegation will bring companies and research institutes from the water technology sector, another from the energy and natural gas sector, and a third is focusing on innovation in agriculture and food.
The Dutch believe that the level of competitiveness, entrepreneurship and innovation in both countries provides a winning combination, from which respective private sectors and research institutes can benefit.
Holland is the second largest destination of Israeli exports in Europe and dozens of Israeli companies have invested in the country.
Due to its central location and with Rotterdam as the largest European harbor, Holland is considered a key player in the EU economy and a worldwide ‘gateway to Europe’.
Trade between both countries exceeded 5 billion dollars in 2012. Total exports from Israel to the Netherlands reached 990 million dollars in the first semester of 2013.