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New Netherlands coalition plans to move embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

AMSTERDAMThe future right-wing coalition in the Netherlands on Thursday announced a radical change of course, including a crackdown on immigration as well as controversial plans to move the country’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The coalition agreement, which right-wing populist Geert Wilders presented together with three other right-wing parties in The Hague, states that the date of such a move should be investigated. The decision should take into account diplomatic interests and a possible solution to the Middle East conflict, it says.

Moving embassies to Jerusalem is internationally controversial due to the disputed status of East Jerusalem, which was annexed decades ago by Israel.

Israel claims the whole of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. The Dutch coalition agreement says that the status of the city should be determined in future peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The US moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018 under then president Donald Trump. The radical right-wing Wilders took the initiative to move the Dutch embassy once before in 2022, but failed to get enough support in parliament. Wilders and his anti-Islam party won November’s parliamentary elections by a surprisingly large margin.

Wilders, whose party won the country’s parliamentary elections but who failed to shore up enough support to lead a government, also announced plans to curb immigration, another divisive issue.

“We are writing history today,” Wilders said in The Hague. “The sun will shine again in the Netherlands.”

Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) reached a coalition with three right-of-centre parties on Wednesday nearly six months after the Netherlands held parliamentary elections.

The anti-Islam firebrand promised the “strictest asylum policy” ever implemented in the Netherlands.

The coalition wants to declare an “asylum crisis” to implement emergency measures, including restrictions on family reunification and social benefits for asylum seekers.

“The Netherlands must belong to the category of member states with the strictest admission rules in Europe,” the agreement states.

The plans also include relaxing environmental regulations for farmers and cancelling subsidies for sustainable energy.

One potential roadblock for the coalition remains, as it is still unclear who will lead the government.

The PVV resoundingly won November’s elections, taking 37 of 150 seats, but Wilders has been unable to muster enough support to replace outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte. He formally ruled himself out of the running in March.

Former education minister Ronald Plasterk, a Social Democrat, has been touted as a possible candidate for the role.

The coalition is set to include the PVV, Rutte’s liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, the conservative New Social Contract (NSC) and the populist Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB).

It could be another four weeks before the new government can take office. The Dutch Parliament will debate the coalition agreement, while a cabinet will also need to be formed.

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