Officials protest government policy in Gaza: “It is ridiculous for us to stand here.”

Officials organized the sit-in in part because the Netherlands twice abstained from a ceasefire vote in the UN General Assembly. “It’s actually too ridiculous for words that we have to stand here,” says Lisanne (real name known to the editors). As an official in the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, she is one of the participants in the protest.

“The Netherlands’ current position is at odds with its own policy objectives surrounding politics in the Middle East,” Lisanne continues. We have stated that we want to make an effective contribution to peace and the two-state solution.”

Just the community

“I became a government employee one day because I wanted to contribute to a just, humane and equitable society,” Lisanne says. “We are not contributing to that now. In fact, we are working against that by not voting for a ceasefire and continuing to hand over weapons.”

According to outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the Netherlands voted against the ceasefire because the text in UN resolutions was “very unbalanced.” Rutte said: “The resolution does not condemn Hamas and does not recognize Israel’s right to self-defense.”

Angelique Egebe, an experienced civil servant at the Foreign Ministry, co-organizer and spokesperson for the protest group, was surprised by the Netherlands’ stance. “Internationally, we are becoming increasingly isolated. You have already seen that with the vote in the UN General Assembly. But countries that abstained at the time, such as the UK and Germany, are now also calling for a ceasefire to cease fire.”


Egbe finds Holland’s position incomprehensible. “We position ourselves as the guardian of international law. We have long spoken in strong terms about any other conflict resulting in such numbers of casualties, and rightly so. It is shameful, to say the least, that we are not doing so now.”

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With the demonstration, Egbe is directly contradicting the policy of the minister she currently officially works for, outgoing Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins-Sloat. She was no longer afraid of revenge. Dissatisfied with the Dutch course on the subject, she resigned from the ministry last month after 21 years of work.

Iris (real name known to editors), one of the organizers involved and also active in the State Department, points out that the group has no illusions. “We don’t think we can suddenly change policy completely. We are doing this mainly out of solidarity with the victims and to make clear that we do not agree with the choices that have been made.”

And also remember how civil servants also find support for each other through work. “Many people felt alone about the situation. With this action we can speak together and make clear that Dutch politics is not done in our name.”

Political correspondent Fence Lampe: ‘Civil servants may protest, but the Cabinet is clear’

“The Dutch government has been pro-Israel from the beginning,” says political correspondent Fons Lampe. “I saw it immediately in the statements of outgoing Prime Minister Rutte, who constantly emphasized Israel’s right to self-defense.”

In the weeks that followed, as Israel escalated the fighting, the Netherlands also began to stress the importance of aid to Gaza and “humanitarian truces,” but always together. In voting on a ceasefire at the United Nations, the Netherlands “actually abstained twice.” . You have already seen civil servants protesting the climate protests, but now also throughout Gaza. “Civil servants are allowed to protest, but the Cabinet has been very clear: ministers set the tone, not civil servants.”

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Megan Vasquez

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