Netherlands to let Palestinians register birthplace as West Bank, Gaza

The Netherlands will soon allow Palestinians living there to register their birthplace as West Bank or Gaza, instead of referencing Israel or unknown.

Palestinians born in east Jerusalem can also register the West Bank as their place of birth.

The step is partially a technical one, because the Netherlands has a liberal understanding of territorial boundaries when it comes to place of birth.

An Israeli, for example, who lives in east Jerusalem would not be prohibited from claiming Israel as a place of birth, even though the Netherlands does not formally hold that east Jerusalem is part of Israel.

Similarly, a Palestinian born in east Jerusalem, who does not want to claim Israel as a place of birth, can now check off the territorial designation, of “West Bank, Gaza, including east Jerusalem.”

The “West Bank, Gaza, including east Jerusalem” is not the only example of a geographical designation in a disputed area that is available to those in the Netherlands registering their place of birth.

The Dutch Interior Ministry posted a notice about the pending change to the registration of births on its personal records data base on its web site.

It did so by referencing a question and answer session in the lower parliament of the Netherlands with the Dutch State Secretary for the Interior Raymond Knops.

His response, underscored the Netherlands acceptance of the pre-1967 border lines as the future boundaries of a Palestinian state and his country’s disavowal of Israeli sovereignty in east Jerusalem.

Knops explained that he intended to change the options available to those registering their births who were born in those areas after May 15, 1948.

Such a change, Knops said, was consistent with the designation of the territory under the 1993 Oslo Accords and United Nations Security Council resolutions. This includes, he said, the 1980 UNSC resolution 478 that condemned Israel’s decision to annex areas of Jerusalem over the pre-1967 lines.

Placing the West Bank and Gaza on the list of registry options for Palestinians is consistent with the Dutch position that Israel is not the sovereign power in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the Netherlands’s lack of recognition of Palestine as a state, Knops said.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry had no response.

The Palestinian Authority in the last decade attempted to sway the European Union, of which the Netherlands is a member state, to unilaterally recognize the state of Palestine.

There are some 137 nations that unilaterally recognize Palestine as a state, including eight EU countries that did so prior to joining the EU. Only one EU nation, Sweden, has actively broken with the EU stance against such a recognition.

The EU, like the United States, has held that such recognition should only be granted at the conclusion of a final status resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But some EU member states have been frustrated by the lack of progress in the peace process that has been frozen for the last four years.

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