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Monday, Jan. 13, 2003 at 5:32 AM
Man, this woman tells it the way it is. Good for her. No mealy mouth, "tsk tsk" of Israel, just the harsh truth.She shows the same courage as the Dutch who hid Jews from the Nazis.
Duisenberg: Occupation 'inhuman,' Sharon provoking
By Sara Liebovitz-Dar, Haaretz Correspondent, and Reuters
Greta Duisenberg, the activist wife of the European Central Bank chief Wim Duisenberg, on Saturday slammed the occupation of the territories as "inhuman," and accused Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of provoking violence.
Duisenberg, in the region on a solidarity mission, said after further talks with Palestinians she wanted to look into alleged Israeli human rights violations.
"The power of the Israeli government to humiliate [Palestinians] like that - I cannot stand it... If you see it yourself, it's more inhuman," Duisenberg told Reuters after meeting with Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi.
She blamed Israel for the violence afflicting the region, saying that Sharon "always provokes [violence] in my view... and then he blames the Palestinian people."
She was quoted by a Dutch newspaper this week as saying that the Israeli occupation was worse than Nazi Germany's occupation of the Netherlands.
The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, one of the most prominent Jewish organizations in the Netherlands, called on Wim Duisenberg in an open letter to clarify whether he supported his wife's controversial remarks.
Duisenberg had earlier in the week said he was 100 percent behind his wife, but the Simon Wiesenthal Center called Friday for him to either resign or be fired if he supports what it called anti-Semitic comments by his wife over the past year.
Gretta Duisenberg denied again Saturday that she was anti-Semitic, saying that she only opposed Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza.
"If [Israelis] want really to have peace, they should stop confiscating land all the time for all those settlements. It goes on and goes on and that's not logical."
Mrs. Duisenberg also came under fire from the Dutch foreign minister for using the diplomatic passport granted to her through her husband's position to visit the territories.
Appearing with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat in Ramallah on Wednesday, the ECB president's wife said she thought Israel should "give back the occupied territories" and said that Arafat "hates killing."
"I think there should be peace and the military situation of the Israeli government should stop because their actions are terrible. You can't have peace when you have all these killings around. There should be dialogue and negotiations," she said.
Responding to the visit, Foreign Ministry spokesman Jonathan Peled said Wednesday that Duisenberg was not welcome in Israel and that her views were biased. Peled also accused Duisenberg of ignoring the Israeli side of the conflict.
"I did ask [Arafat] about the suicide bombings and he's absolutely against it," Duisenberg said. "He even told me that yesterday he prevented two attempts."
"We have succeeded in stopping many attempts and we'll continue our efforts because we believe in this," Arafat said.
In November 2002, 60-year-old Duisenberg was forced to cancel a plan to tour Israel and the West Bank following pressure from the Foreign Ministry. She had planned a trip as part of a delegation from a Dutch organization called United Civilians for Peace.
A member of her group said this week it wants the European Union to persuade Israel to end occupation, if necessary by threatening to curtail trade benefits.
Last November, following the cancellation of Duisenberg's trip, Daniel Scheck, the head of the Foreign Ministry's Europe 1 department said that, "We made it clear to her that while this country is accustomed to all kinds of criticism, she has crossed the line... I'm not sorry that she isn't coming. From our perspective, nothing good could come of such a visit."
In April 2002, Duisenberg hung a PLO flag from the balcony of her house in Amsterdam. In June, she founded "Stop the Occupation," and when a Dutch radio interviewer asked her how many signatures she hoped to collect on a petition of support for the organization, she responded: "Six million" and laughed.
Her remarks prompted a Jewish lawyer, Abraham Moszkowicz, to file a complaint with the Dutch attorney general accusing Duisenberg of anti-Semitism.
Her neighbor, Rosa van der Wieken, a Jewish physician and member of the city council, was not pleased by the sight of the Palestinian flag.
"I can see that flag from every window of my house," she said at the time. She and her husband, Ron, a cardiologist, wrote Duisenberg a letter asking her to remove the flag. Duisenberg refused.
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