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The Dutch government’s “Discouragement Policy” outlines regulations for economic activities with settlements, but remains vague enough that it leaves room for pro-BDS NGOs to pressure Dutch companies to divest from any and all Israeli corporations. Thus, within the past two months, several Dutch companies, including the PGGM pension fund, Vitens water company, and engineering and project management consultancy Royal Haskoning DHV, announced their decisions to withdraw from partnerships with Israeli companies.

Ironically, as shown by NGO Monitor, the same Dutch government that opposes boycotts has been allocating Dutch taxpayer money to the NGOs that lobby for BDS. ICCO, Kerk in Actie, IKV Pax Christi, and Oxfam Novib receive large scale funding from the Dutch government, and in turn, fund Israeli and Palestinian NGOs that are centrally involved in BDS activities. At least nine NGOs that have received Dutch funding have endorsed the 2005 “Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS.” This discriminatory anti-peace initiative calls for “the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.”

This network of NGOs has gained incredible momentum in the Netherlands, exhibiting the ability to deeply influence the policies of Dutch corporations.

The Dutch “Discouragement Policy” has provided activists with the tools and ammunition to form a vigorous BDS network, infiltrating both political and economic channels in the Netherlands.

The policy has opened the door to campaigns that exploit its function for the purpose of confronting Dutch companies and pressuring them to sabotage mutually beneficial initiatives with Israel.

To prevent further damage, the Dutch government needs to go beyond calling for economic cooperation. It needs to forcefully reject the political warfare of the BDS movement and the NGO attacks on the Dutch economy and its foreign policy.