PM in Amsterdam: Iran is our biggest threat

Addressing Jewish community in Holland, Netanyahu calls on Abbas to not walk away from peace, "continue the negotiations."

By CNAAN LIPSHIZ, JPOST CORRESPONDENT
January 19, 2012 02:59
3 minute read.
Binyamin, Sara Netanyahu arrive in Amsterdam

Binyamin, Sara Netanyahu arrive in Amsterdam_311. (photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershon/GPO)

AMSTERDAM – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday called the Iranian nuclear threat “the issue that most concerns Israel” and said that the Netherlands and Israel “stand together in opposing Iran’s feverish pursuit of nuclear weapons while declaring its intention to wipe Israel off the map.”

“Nuclear arms in Iran are a threat to Israel, the region and the world,” he said in a speech in Amsterdam. “Sanctions should be applied to Iran’s central bank and its oil exports – and they should be applied now.”

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“I want to thank the Netherlands for its support for strong sanctions on Iran,” Netanyahu added.

He also reiterated his call to PA President Mahmoud Abbas to “start negotiations for peace with no preconditions” and lauded the Dutch Parliament for passing a motion last year calling on the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel as the Jewish state. “The persistent [Palestinian] refusal to accept a Jewish state within any boundaries is the core of the conflict,” he said.

Netanyahu commended Holland’s wartime record, which this month became the subject of a heated public debate in the Netherlands.

“The people of the Netherlands can be proud that despite their small size, they possess the second highest number of Righteous Gentiles of any country – thousand of righteous who risked their lives and the lives of their families, their own children to save Jews,” Netanyahu said.

Last week, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte refused a parliamentary request to apologize for the perceived “passivity” of the government-in-exile in regard to the murder of more than 100,000 Dutch Jews. Dutch politician Geert Wilders submitted the request on January 4 following a call by two former senior ministers to offer apologies.

Netanyahu, hosted by the Portuguese Synagogue and the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), was greeted by two small groups of demonstrators waiting in the rain outside the synagogue. One group, led by the pro-Israel activist and Christian pastor Ben Kok, was waving Israeli flags and signs asking for the forgiveness of the Jewish people for “persecution of Jews.” The other group consisted of pro-Palestinian demonstrators chanting “Netanyahu, go away,” with one demonstrator waving the Hamas flag. Both groups were a few dozen strong.

On Thursday Netanyahu is scheduled to meet in the Dutch parliament with Prof. Johan van Hulst, a 101-year-old man from Amsterdam who saved hundreds of Jewish children during the Holocaust. Van Hulst is a former senior politician for the Christian Democratic Appeal, a coalition partner in the current Dutch government. Netanyahu will present him with a copy of the bible and thank him for his actions.

“I am meeting Netanyahu as a resistance man, not as a politician, so I’ll keep off politics,” Van Hulst told The Jerusalem Post. “I will tell Netanyahu that I know exactly what problems Israel faces and that I wish him and his government the best.”

Van Hulst saved more than 500 Jewish children as the director of a religious Protestant seminary, HKS, smuggling them to safe houses outside Amsterdam through his seminary. He was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 1972 by Yad Vashem.

“I have heard various people comparing Israel’s actions to those of Nazi Germany,” he said.

“It is shameful. Israel has made some mistakes in its treatment of the Palestinians, and those mistakes are examined through a magnifying glass.”

Bloomberg contributed to this report.


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