Letters to King Willem-Alexander
(1) Letter from Astrid Essed [translated from Dutch to English by Google]
The Next King of the Netherlands, Willem Alexander
Prince of Orange-Nassau, Jonkheer van Amsberg
24 April 2013
Your involvement in the Water Project in the Negev Desert, the King Willem Alexander Project"
With surprise and disappointment I have noted that you have attached your name to a water project, the so-called "King Willem Alexander Project", which is carried out by the Jewish National Fund Netherlands in the Negev desert, set up in honor of your inauguration as King on 30 April 2013.  Since you are clearly unaware of the motivations and objectives of the Jewish National Fund of the Netherlands and the Israeli ethnic cleansing of the Bedouin in the Negev desert, I would like to provide you with the following background information.
According to the Jewish National Fund, Netherlands: "The inhabitants of Mitspe Ramon are forced to use precious drinking water to irrigate their crops... a problem that we want to tackle together with you!" It all sounds so innocent and involved, that water project to which you have your name attached. However, the reality, both with regard to the Jewish National Fund of the Netherlands and the humanitarian situation of Bedouin living in the Negev desert, is a lot grimmer.
According to the information on the website of the Jewish National Fund, Netherlands, its core task is "to develop and make the land of Israel liveable for the benefit of all its inhabitants". If "all its inhabitants" mean the Jewish-Israeli, then that information is correct.
Otherwise, I don't. The Palestinians, as you will know the original inhabitants of Palestine [the then Turkish Ottoman colony before the arrival of Zionism-inspired Jewish "pioneers"], are being pushed by the Israeli mother organization, [founded in 1901] the Jewish National Fund, systematically discriminated against. To my knowledge, the Jewish National Fund has never distanced the Netherlands from it or from the role played by the Israeli Jewish National Fund to this day in the oppression of the Palestinian population.
Moreover, the Jewish National Fund Netherlands, founded in 1901, has been the figurehead in promoting Zionism first and then the State of Israel over the historical years. The fact that it was created as a neo-colonial project, completely disregarding the fundamental right to self-determination of the Palestinians colonised up to then, can be assumed to be well known in 2013.
Because what is the creation of a State in the land of another people, ignoring the rights of that other people, otherwise? It is as if the Batavians want to establish their own State after 2000 years of absence in the present-day Netherlands.
Relating to the present ethnic cleansing of Bedouin
The most important reason why you should not link your name to this Water Project are the ethnic cleansings of the Bedouin carried out by the Israeli Government in the Negev desert.
This is not new: since 1948 in the so-called Israeli War of Independence , Bedouin from the Negev desert have been ethnically purified, as you can read in the documentation of the human rights organisation Human Rights Watch. Over the years, this process of ethnic cleansing has continued. But even now, around the time you have attached your name to this Water Project, this injustice continues, which has recently been strongly protested against by human rights organisation Amnesty International. According to this Amnesty report, 30,000 Bedouin are in danger of being expelled.
As justification, the authorities give up 'economic development' and 'not being recognised' of the Bedouin villages. But whatever excuse is used, it is not valid and, moreover, internationally and morally reprehensible.
Ethnic cleansing is strictly prohibited under Article 49, 4th Geneva Convention. According to Article 7, Rome Statute, they are crimes against humanity.
I believe that you have put forward enough arguments of an international and humanitarian nature, why you should refrain from attaching your name to this Negev Water Project.
It should also be kept in mind that Israel has been occupying power in the Palestinian territories since 1967, despite UN Resolution 242 of 1967, is guilty of the extension of illegal settlements under International Law, maintains an illegal Gaza blockade and builds an equally illegal Wall. Not to mention the bloody Israeli military expeditions, especially in Gaza.
By continuing to link your name to this Water Project, you associate yourself both with the occupying state of Israel and more specifically, with the great injustice done to the Bedouin in the Negev desert. People who have lived in this area for generations and are increasingly being deported.
However, if you persist in participating in this Water Project, you will do more than implicitly support injustice You will violate your constitutional obligations.
On April 30th, you will take Deo volente the Oath on the Constitution. The Oath, which contains Article 90, which states that the Netherlands will promote the International Legal Order.
Israel has shown more than convincingly that international law is being flouted, and the fact that the injustice against the Bedouin people in the Negev is repugnant and unacceptable must be reason for you to decouple your name from this Water Project. Otherwise, you will start your kingship with a blemish on your blasphemy.
Thank you very much for reading this letter.
(2) Letter from Benji de Levie [translated from Dutch to English by Google]
HRH, the Prince of Orange
P.O. Box 30412 2500 GK
The Hague, Rotterdam
25 April 2013
The King Willem-Alexander Water Project in Negev Desert
On the occasion of your inauguration, a water project carried out by the Jewish National Fund in the Negev desert in Israel will be named after you. It is not without hesitation that we inform you of a serious critical comment that we make with this naming. We have decided to share this caveat with you, because of the reputation and high moral standing that our royal family enjoys in the Netherlands, but also internationally.
Our criticism relates to the important role played by the JNF and continues to play in the expropriation of the Palestinians and in actively and consciously creating and perpetuating legal inequality between Palestinian and Jewish residents of Israel. We offer you below in translated form an article that Electronic Intifada has posted about your decision to give your name to the JNF project.
Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian human rights activist and one of the founders of the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, told Electronic Intifada: "The JNF has played an important role in the expropriation of the Palestinians and in colonizing their country. Today, the JNF continues its explicitly racist practices against Palestinians and rejects any notion of equal rights for all. Palestinian society appreciates the attention that equality and non-discrimination have in the Dutch Constitution and on this basis call on Prince Willem-Alexander to reconsider the decision to give his name to a project of the JNF."
Jamal Juma', director of the Stop the Wall Campaign, wrote in an email to Electronic Intifada: "For Palestinians, the JNF is one of the main executors of Israeli policy that discriminates against and expropriates Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line. For them, the JNF is a symbol of apartheid and the Israeli ideology of racial supremacy. That the king of the Netherlands accepts as a gift a "damaging" project of a colonial office in a country that is not his brings us back to the darkest days of colonialism, when whites were convinced that they could dispose of the colonized territories and the people who lived there at will. I urge the Netherlands to instead ratify the tradition of tolerance, equality and respect for human rights, for which this country is known and to ensure that this gift will be rejected."
A press release from the Jewish National Fund, Netherlands (JNF-NL) states that JNF-NL's core activities are the development of the land of Israel and its habitable for the benefit of all its inhabitants. In reality, the work of the organisation contributes to the expropriation of the Palestinian people and the anchoring of the Israeli apartheid system. The JNF-NL statute lists the Jewish people as the beneficiary of its objective and activities. It explicitly excludes the indigenous Palestinian population, which after the mass expulsion in 1947/1948 still accounts for 20% of the total population of present-day Israel.
The new 1992 articles of association of JNF-NL show that the organization operates as a branch of JNF Israel, also known as Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL). Electronic Intifada has requested a copy of these articles of association in Dutch. These are still valid, given that no changes were registered with the Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands. The purpose of the JNF-NL is "to bring land into Israel in the unaliented (sic) property of the Jewish people and to develop and forest land in Israel in the interest of the Jewish people" (Article 2).
The articles of association show that the KKL controls the board of the JNF-NL. KKL's head office approves the appointment of the members of the Dutch Board of Directors and appoints new members when the board of directors needs members. In addition, the JNF-NL board must consult with the KKL on the appointment, dismissal and remuneration of the Director; and the JNF-NL board needs the approval of the KKL if it wants to change its status. All proceeds from the JNF-NL will be transferred to the KKL, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
The Jewish National Fund was established in 1901 with the main purpose of "buying, leasing or exchanging land, or receiving or otherwise obtaining leasehold in Palestine and the surrounding areas with the aim of "establishing Jews on these grounds".
After the war and the founding of Israel in 1948, the JNF took control of most of the land seized from Palestinian refugees. In the 1950s, the JNF became a quasi-state organization when Israel formally linked the private fund to the state in accordance with the World Zionist Organization Jewish Agency (status) legislation and the Keren Keyemeth LeIsrael legislation. With this legislation, the Israeli government decided that the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency and related organizations, including the JNF, should be treated as part of the State of Israel, and as institutions authorized to perform public functions. Subsequently, the JNF joined the Israel Lands Administration (later renamed Israel Lands Authority), the public administrator of about 93 percent of all land in Israel.
According to the historian Ilan Pappe, the JNF owns 13 percent of the country directly and through its influential position in the Israel Lands Authority it controls more than 93 percent of all land in Israel. According to the JNF statute and the "Basic Law: Land of Israel", the JNF may only exchange and lease land to Jewish legal entities, to the state and to the government-controlled Development Authority, writes Badil, the organization for the rights of Palestinian refugees. The funds raised by the JNF-NL are transferred to and spent by the Israeli semi-state organisation JNF-KKL.
In 2004, the Palestinian-Israeli civil rights organization Adalah in Haifa challenged the Israeli Supreme Court's policy of the Israel Lands Authority (ILA) to open the bids for JNF land in Israel only to Jews. Adalah demanded that the ILA, as a public body, respect the principles of equality, fair distribution and fairness and cease to act as a subcontractor of discrimination on grounds of national origin.
In its response to the supreme court, the JNF underscored its special role "as the owner of an eternal possession of the Jewish people." The JNF argued that the allocation of JNF land to non-Jews "will be extremely harmful retroactively, with regard to the rights of the JNF and of the Jewish people". The JNF writes: "Israeli Knesset and Israeli society have expressed the view that the distinction between Jews and non-Jews, which underlies the Zionist vision, is a distinction that is permissible and not discriminatory in nature, at least when it comes to the resources held by the Zionist movement."
The JNF's response demonstrates a determination to continue its discriminatory marketing of the land, stating that the "JNF is not a public authority acting on behalf of all state citizens. Its loyalty is to the Jewish people and only in this respect does it bear responsibility".
The JNF's discriminatory practices towards Israel's 1.5 million Palestinian citizens have been criticised by several UN bodies. In 2007, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged Israel to ensure that the JNF is bound by the principle of non-discrimination in the performance of its functions. In 1998, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights noted with great concern that the JNF should be granted the right to allow land it manages to benefit Jews only. It called on Israel to address this problem.
In 2007, the UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) rejected the request of the US section of the JNF for an advisory status with the UN Economic and Social Council. Violation by the JNF-KKL of the principles of the UN Charter, which emphasise respect for human rights and equality, was one of the main reasons for the rejection, according to Adalah. Furthermore, the Committee could not distinguish between the activities of the JNF division in the USA and the JNF-KKL; this contradicts the JNF's claim that it is an independent and non-governmental organisation.
A gift from the JNF is not a crown jewel
Dutch citizens expect their king to show respect for the core values laid down in the Constitution of the kingdom. The principle of non-discrimination, as set out in Article 1 of this Constitution, is crucial for Dutch values. However, JNF-NL operates as a branch of the JNF-KKL, an Israeli parastatal organization that performs and discriminates against essential government functions on the basis of religion and ethnicity at the expense of the rights of the indigenous Palestinian people.
Your Highness, the Movement for Palestinian Rights in the Netherlands and beyond is very concerned about your decision to give your name to the JNF water project in the Israeli Negev desert. We remain in confidence that, invoking international law and the Dutch Constitution, you will reconsider your
Benji de Levie
Chairman docP, Palestine Services and Research Centre