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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 February 2019

The Netherlands to begin recognising Gaza and West Bank as Palestinian birthplaces

It currently offers the choice between Israel and 'unknown'

Palestinian protesters take cover from Israeli tear-gas during clashes after Friday protests near the border between Israel and Gaza Strip, east Gaza, 08 February 2019. EPA
Palestinian protesters take cover from Israeli tear-gas during clashes after Friday protests near the border between Israel and Gaza Strip, east Gaza, 08 February 2019. EPA

The Netherlands is set to begin recognising the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank as accepted birthplaces for Palestinians who were born in the country after the creation of Israel.

The Netherlands does not yet recognise the State of Palestine, as many countries do, but it will recognise those Palestinian territories as the origin of birth for those born after May 15, 1948 when the British Mandate officially ended.

The policy is in line with the Dutch position that Israel does not have sovereignty over those territories, which the Palestinians seek for any future sovereign state. The only options previously available to Palestinians in the Netherlands were "Israel" and "unknown".

The announcement was made by Dutch State Secretary Raymond Knops at The Hague on Friday, according to an Interior Ministry release. In a letter, he said the territories would be added to the list of territories that the Dutch civil registry accepts.

He said the new category would be introduced as the terms were agreed upon in the Oslo Peace Accords signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation in the 1990s and in subsequent United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The category of "unknown" was only an option because Palestinians had protested against putting Israel as their place of birth.

Israel has maintained a military occupation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It has since built a network of settlements across both territories that the majority of the international community deem to be illegal.

The Palestinians say the settlement enterprise is an attempt to prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state that would consist of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

In Gaza, Israel withdrew its settler population in 2005 but has since imposed a decade-long siege that the UN says has made the territory unlivable.

Updated: February 10, 2019 02:30 PM

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