The Israel Prize-winning poet Natan Zach placed an ad in Monday’s Hebrew edition of the Haaretz daily wishing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “blessings on the way to the Hague court.”
Last Friday the International Criminal Court in The Hague opened a preliminary investigation into alleged Israeli crimes during the Gaza conflict over the summer, after the Palestinian Authority applied to join the tribunal.
The probe may also pave the way for Palestinians to be prosecuted for war crimes.
Israel and its close allies, including the United States have denounced the Palestinians’ bid to join the court, largely seen as part of an effort on the Abbas’s part to place pressure on Israel and seek independence unilaterally in the absence of a viable peace process.
Zach, who has also won the Bialik Prize for literature, has been a divisive figure for years for both his political and his racial beliefs.
In October he placed another ad in Haaretz defending Abbas’s use of the term “genocide” to describe last summer’s military operation in Gaza.
But Zach’s most controversial moment may have been in July 2010, when, in an interview on Army Radio, he made a comparison between European and Middle Eastern Jews, saying: “The one lot comes from the highest culture there is – Western European culture — and the other lot comes from the caves.”
That comment caused hundreds to sign a petition to have his writings removed from the national education curriculum.
MK Ayelet Shaked from the Jewish Home responded to Monday’s ad on her Facebook page, saying that Zach “supports diplomatic terror against Israel.” Meanwhile, Knesset members Avi Wortzman (Jewish Home) and Gila Gamliel (Likud) quoted a verse in Isaiah 49 to imply that Zach was a “destroyer” of Israel.