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Archives 2002

Duisenberg: IDF occupation worse than Nazi occupation of Holland

AMSTERDAM - A Dutch Jewish group on Friday called on European Central Bank chief Wim Duisenberg to distance himself from "disturbing and highly controversial" statements by his pro-Palestinian wife during a visit to the Middle East.

Europe's top central banker waded into an escalating row over his activist wife Gretta Duisenberg earlier this week after she met Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and urged Israel to stop occupying the West Bank and Gaza strip.

Gretta Duisenberg, head of Dutch group "Stop the Occupation," has been attacked by the Israeli and Dutch governments as biased. Her mission has reportedly split over concerns its message was being obscured by the Duisenberg commotion.

The Duisenberg controversy deepened on Friday when she was quoted by a Dutch newspaper comparing Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza with Nazi Germany's occupation of the Netherlands during World War Two.

"With the exception of the Holocaust, the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian areas is worse than the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands," she was quoted as saying in an interview with the Algemeen Dagblad daily newspaper.

"The cruelty of the Israelis has no limits. That they are blowing up houses of Palestinians is not rare. The Nazis never went that far during the occupation of the Netherlands," she reportedly told the Algemeen Dagblad.

Gretta Duisenberg, who last year created a storm of controversy and received a death threat after she flew a Palestinian flag from her Amsterdam family home, could not be reached for comment.

Wim Duisenberg earlier this week lent support to his wife in a letter to Dutch foreign minister who had criticized her use of a diplomatic passport for her trip, saying that he was 100 percent behind her.

The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), one of the most prominent Jewish organisations in the Netherlands, called on Wim Duisenberg in an open letter to clarify whether he supported his wife's controversial remarks.

"These statements by your wife are disturbing and highly controversial," CIDI said.

"The ECB derives its strength from operating independently from any political debate. But if we take your remark in your letter that you are 100 percent behind your wife at face value, we must conclude you approve," the group said.

The United States, Israel's guardian ally, this month joined a chorus of international criticism at Israel's policy of demolishing Palestinian homes which have been denounced as "collective" punishment by Palestinians and human rights groups.

The Organisation of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands said Gretta Duisenberg's comments had not served the peace process in the Middle East but had polarised opinions. It roundly condemned comments in the newspaper interview.

"It's a disgrace. It's really an insult to those Jews and non-Jews who perished...," a spokesman said.

By Reuter - Ha'aretz

Gretta Duisenberg and her Friends