Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders meets Herzog, vows ‘full support’ in battling terror

Pro-Israel lawmaker has struggled to form government after his party won November elections; main parties to meet, seek path to coalition Monday

Leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) Geert Wilders delivers a speech at a post-election meeting at the Nieuwspoort conference center, The Hague, November 23, 2023. (John Thys/AFP)
File: Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom, known as PVV, answers questions after the announcement of preliminary results of elections in The Hague, Netherlands, November 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders said on Monday he had met with President Isaac Herzog and pledged his full support to Israel in fighting terrorism.

Wilders, who is aiming to lead a new government after his nationalist PVV party won elections in November, has long been a staunch supporter of Israel.

Wilders has unsuccessfully tried to form a government since the elections. The main parties trying to form a governing coalition will meet again on Monday in an effort to agree on what form a possible cooperation could have.

The Israeli president was in the Netherlands to attend the opening of a Holocaust museum in Amsterdam on Sunday. At the opening ceremony, Herzog called for prayers for peace and the immediate release of hostages taken by Hamas during its devastating October 7 massacre in Israel.

Wilders posted a picture on X of his meeting with Herzog and wrote: “I told him I am proud that he visits the Netherlands and that Israel has, and always will have, my full support in its fight against terror.”

Herzog’s presence in Amsterdam prompted protests led by a local Jewish anti-Zionist group calling for his arrest on war crimes charges due to the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip.

Hundreds gathered on Sunday waving Palestinian flags and banners and shouting “Never Again Is Now,” a reference to their belief Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. They booed and shouted slogans as the dignitaries arrived at the museum.

Protesters had hung signs on lampposts reading: “Detour to International Criminal Court” along the route.

Another pro-Palestinian Dutch organization, The Rights Forum, called Herzog’s presence “a slap in the face of the Palestinians who can only helplessly watch how Israel murders their loved ones and destroys their land.”

The war erupted when Hamas launched a devastating assault on Israel that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Terrorists also abducted 253 people and took them as hostages to Gaza. Israel responded to the attack with a military campaign to destroy the terror group, topple its regime in Gaza, and free the hostages, over half of whom remain in captivity.

According to a statement from Herzog’s office last week, his visit aimed to focus on efforts to release the hostages and on the rise of antisemitism since the outbreak of the war.

Herzog was among Israeli leaders cited in an order issued in January by the International Court of Justice for Israel to do all they can to prevent death, destruction, and any acts of genocide in Gaza. He accused the court of misrepresenting his comments in the ruling. Israel strongly rejected allegations leveled by South Africa in the court case that the military campaign in Gaza breached the Genocide Convention.

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