(JTA) — A former Dutch prime minister said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is a “war criminal” who should be prosecuted during his visit this week to the Netherlands.
Dries van Agt, a longtime Palestinian activist, made the remarks on Monday during an interview with the NPO 1 public television channel.
“There’s a war criminal coming to this country,” said Van Agt, 85, who presided as prime minister for five years until 1982 for the centrist Christian-Democratic Appeal party.
“The occupation and expansion … building of settlements, of occupied territory, this is according to the Rome Statute, which is … the setup … the statute on which the International Criminal Court is based, in so many words, a war crime,” van Agt said in a rambling television interview. “So why should we receive someone who continues with such things? We could have sent him right away to the International Criminal Court; that would have been better.”
In 2012, van Agt said Jews should have had a state in Germany instead of the Land of Israel. In 2008, he spoke at a rally in Rotterdam that featured a speech via satellite by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
Those controversies and others, along with frequent speeches against Israel, have prompted the leaders of his party and other politicians to distance themselves from van Agt. Former party leader Maxime Verhagen during a 2008 interview chuckled when asked about van Agt, adding: “Dries Van Agt represents the opinion of one man: Dries Van Agt.”
Likoed Nederland, a pro-Israel group, said in a statement Monday that “van Agt merits no serious podium.”
Netanyahu, who visited the Netherlands in 2011, will meet with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and King Willem Alexander.
On Sunday, Manfred Gerstenfeld, the chairman emeritus of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and an expert on Dutch-Israeli ties, wrote in an op-ed in The Jerusalem Post that among Jewish groups that were invited by the Dutch Royal House to a 2013 dinner hosted by Willem Alexander for then-Israeli President Shimon Peres was the far-left EAJG association, which favors sanctions against Israel because of its settlements.