ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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Netanyahu to visiting Greek, Dutch leaders: Civilizations must ‘unite against Hamas’

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis says he hopes war will not have ‘too much of a humanitarian cost,’ while Dutch PM Mark Rutte says leaders to ‘discuss how now to best move forward’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) meets Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at his office in Jerusalem, October 23, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) meets Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at his office in Jerusalem, October 23, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Both Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited Israel on Monday, the latest in a procession of foreign leaders who have made solidarity visits since the start of the war with Gaza more than two weeks ago.

Last week, US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz all visited Israel and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Sunday, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni made the trip, and French President Emmanuel Macron is slated to arrive on Tuesday.

“I always say that the best thing about standing with Israel is standing in Israel,” Netanyahu told Mitsotakis during a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. “And you’re doing that. I appreciate the solidarity of you, your government, the people of Greece, at this darkest hour.”

Mitsotakis told Netanyahu that he was visiting Israel “not just as an ally, but as a true friend.” The Hamas atrocities against Israel on October 7 were “truly horrible, and Greece from the very first moment defended and supported the right of Israel to defend itself in line with international law.”

The Greek leader said that Athens will continue to support Israel, adding that he hopes “whatever happens happens without too much of a humanitarian cost. But you can count on our support and our help.”

Netanyahu repeated to Mitsotakis similar comments to those he has made to many foreign leaders over the past two weeks: “It’s a battle against civilization. It’s civilization against barbarism. We’re on the side of civilization. We have to unite, all together, against Hamas, which is ISIS.”

Later Monday, Netanyahu also met with Rutte in Jerusalem, repeating his assertions that Hamas is ISIS and that civilized nations must unite in destroying the terror group.

“Just as the world united to defeat ISIS, the world has to unite against Hamas, unite with Israel to defeat them,” Netanyahu told his Dutch counterpart, noting the Hamas “savagery that is unimaginable. I’ve been through wars. I’ve seen horrible things. I’ve never seen things this horrible.”

Rutte told his Israeli counterpart that he has “respect for what your team is doing to try to fend off this attack and to restore the safety of Israel.” The Dutch leader added that the Hamas onslaught is “horrible. It is horrific. And we are going to discuss how now to best move forward.”

Rutte also met Monday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. No details of their conversation were immediately available.

Macron is scheduled to arrive in Tel Aviv on Tuesday and meet with Netanyahu as well as President Isaac Herzog.

It was not immediately clear whether Macron would also meet with Abbas, or with the families of French citizens whose loved ones have been killed or taken hostage by Hamas.

At least 30 French citizens were among the approximately 1,400 people in Israel who were murdered by Hamas terrorists during their brutal rampage on October 7. Seven French citizens are still missing: one of them, a French woman, has been confirmed as among the at least 224 hostages taken by Hamas. Macron has said the others are also thought to be hostages, but there has not yet been confirmation.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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