THE HAGUE (JTA) — A former Dutch prime minister reportedly said that the Jewish state should have been established in Germany.

“Jews need a safe place. Why couldn’t they get a safe place in Germany, at the time?” Dries Van Agt said on November 8 during a seminar in Nijmegen, according to the Dutch daily Telegraaf.

The paper described Van Agt, who is a harsh critic of Israel, as a “pro-Palestinian activist.”

Jack de Vries, a lawmaker for Van Agt’s party, the centrist Christian Democratic Appeal, is quoted as telling Elsevier, a weekly, that he “nearly fell from the chair” when he heard Van Agt’s words.

“This remark reflects very little respect for history, especially considering the timing, the 74th anniversary of Kristallnacht,” De Vries said.

Van Agt later told Elsevier that he “only said it would be more logical for Jews to have gotten a piece of land in Germany” as “the Middle East had nothing to do with World War II.”

Van Agt served as prime minister in the early 1980s. In 2008, he spoke at a rally in Rotterdam in which Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh delivered a speech on video via satellite.

Van Agt has said that he would accept the definition of Hamas as a terrorist organization only if the same definition applied to Israel.