Netanyahu is a war criminal, says former Dutch PM

Dutch lawmaker Tunahan Kuzu, left, refuses to shake hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a visit to parliament in The Hague, on 7 September.

Bart Maat EPA

The era of “unconditional friendship” between Israel and the Netherlands is over, the Dutch right-wing newspaper De Telegraaf reported as Benjamin Netanyahu faced vocal protests during a two-day visit to the country this week to discuss economic cooperation.

In one striking moment captured on video, Dutch MP Tunahan Kuzu refused to shake hands with the Israeli prime minister during a meeting with lawmakers:

Palestine solidarity groups had presented a petition to lawmakers, signed by more than 7,500 people, urging sanctions on Israel over its “policies of oppression, discrimination, and land grab and ignoring the United Nations.”

People also took to the streets to protest Netanyahu’s visit.

And more than a thousand people wrote to lawmakers calling on them to skip the planned meeting in parliament with Netanyahu.

Rik Grashoff, a lawmaker for the Green Left party, announced on Twitter that he would not attend the meeting because it would not change Israel’s “disastrous policy” towards the Palestinians.

Instead, Grashoff called for more pressure on Israel, including sanctions.

Kuzu, one of two MPs from the DENK party, decided to attend the meeting to confront Netanyahu.

Wearing a button with the Palestinian flag, Kuzu nodded, but did not stretch out his hand when Netanyahu was introduced. The Israeli prime minister appeared surprised, and said out loud, “oh, ok,” before moving on.


Kuzu explained that his actions were a response to Netanyahu’s comments during a closed-door meeting with members of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, which Kuzu termed “propaganda.”

Kuzu said he had confronted Netanyahu with images of Israel’s destruction in Gaza, asking the Israeli prime minister if this is what his promotion of democracy, technology and security is about. Netanyahu had “no answer,” according to Kuzu.

“While the streets of Gaza were red with the blood of children in the summer of 2014, the red carpets are being rolled out here,” Kuzu wrote on Facebook. “That doesn’t deserve a handshake but a reference to #FreePalestine.”

In reaction to Kuzu’s stance, anti-Muslim demagogue Geert Wilders called for the expulsion of Kuzu, who is of Turkish ancestry, from parliament, accusing him of “dual loyalty.”

Wilders, who has received funding from some of the most notorious Islamophobic sources in the US, has also championed Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and questioned the existence of Palestine.

Yet other voices from mainstream Dutch politics joined the criticism of Israel.

“Everybody is to blame for the conflict except Israel,” Labor Party lawmaker Michiel Servaes commented on Twitter.

Prior to the meeting, Servaes announced that he would call on Netanyahu to “end his destructive policies of the occupation and not run away from peace talks. Only then we can stand up for your country.”

Harry van Bommel of the Socialist Party tweeted that Netanyahu had cited the existence of Belgian enclaves within the Netherlands to justify Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu would have been referring to tiny spots of Belgian territory that are relics of medieval times.

There is no parallel, however: no disagreement exists between Belgium and the Netherlands over who the land belongs to, while Israel’s settlements in occupied territory, on land forcibly seized from Palestinians, violate international law.

“War criminal”

Former prime minister of the Netherlands Dries van Agt regretted that the government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte had rolled out the red carpet for Netanyahu.

Rutte’s center-right People’s Party leads a coalition government that includes the Labor Party.

Speaking on national television, van Agt called Netanyahu a “war criminal” who should be sent for trial to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International used Netanyahu’s visit to protest Israel’s use of administrative detention.

Currently, more than 700 Palestinians are detained without charge or trial, a practice Israel has retained from the era of British colonial rule in Palestine.

During a joint press conference with Netanyahu, Prime Minister Rutte repeated his government’s position that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign is “protected under the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.”

While supporting the right to boycott Israel, Rutte has declared that his government opposes BDS.

Rutte’s remark suggests that Netanyahu tried again to push for delegitimizing the BDS movement.

“Settlement building needs to stop, and so do demolitions and incitement,” Rutte said.

Despite such criticism, economic cooperation between the Netherlands and Israel continues as usual.

But as this week showed, the close relationship between the two countries is clearly facing growing resistance.




A good model to follow.If more countries expressed their disdain for the actions of the Israeli government ,we would see changes in their behavior.It is in fact the only way to force changes.Otherwise Israel will continue to snub it's nose to the world.


Tunahan Kuzo,
Thank you very much for refusing to shake hands with the Butcher of Gaza.


The US has aided and abetted and facilitated Israel's brutal occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people on their own land for decades now. It is a relief to begin to see other nations stand up to Israel in ways the USA has always refused. It's good to see Netanyahu brought to account at least in the press across the globe, if not in the NY Times. It will be even better when he is called to account in The Hague.


The sad thing is we have the most leverage to use against Netanyahu.

If we'd regularly stand up to the monsters in allied countries , maybe we'd get the nerve to stand up to a few of our own.


Perhaps Netanyahu (real name Mileskowski) should have been shown photos of the 5-metre high wall being built across the land of 58 Christian Arab olive farmers and the land of a Christian Silesian monastery. Kurt Wilders should be aware that Zionists are hell-bent on their objectives and neither Christian or Muslim can stand in their way. Best way to deal with the megalomaniac Zionist heresy (Book of Jeremiah, chapter 7 verse 29) is for Christians and Muslims and True Torah Jews to stand together. Netanyahu and his Zionazi thugs ( who also support DAESH , treating DAESH wounded in Israei hospitals !!) need to be consigned to history.


At last the silence is broken.This paves the way for more criticism of Israel and Israeli policy.The last Gaza massacre showed the world what a cruel,un-enlightened occupier Israel is,the cruel destruction and murder of so many innocent people.A country by international standards is a pariah state,with a dwindling number of friends.
Netenyahu still has old imperial Britain as friend.Do you know the U.K. had to change law to ensure while visiting the U.K he would not indicted for crimes.
Its great to know that former colonial powers like the U.K and Israeli settler colonialist state have a lot in common.I can gurantee you the U.K.will support any actions by the Israeli's,it takes one to no one.Zionist ideology has no limits.


The stand taken by these Dutch politicians will hopefully be the first of many others by responsible European leaders in condemnation of the cruel and illegitimate policies and actions of the Israeli government and its army. The people of Israel very much need the push of such friendly outside criticism.

Adri Nieuwhof

Adri Nieuwhof's picture

Adri Nieuwhof is a human rights advocate based in the Netherlands and former anti-apartheid activist at the Holland Committee on Southern Africa. Twitter: @steketeh