JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—”Action must be taken before it is too late, sanctions on Iran must be intensified,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told reporters in Amsterdam on Thursday.
The Iranian threat to produce nuclear weapons is “the issue that most concerns Israel,” Netanyahu said, because Iran has already decided to become a nuclear state.
He told his host, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, that Israel and the Netherlands “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.”
“I want to thank the Netherlands for its support for strong sanctions on Iran,” Netanyahu added.
Turning to a conflict closer to home, Netanyahu reiterated his call to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to “start negotiations for peace with no preconditions.” He praised the Dutch Parliament for passing a motion last year calling on the PA 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.
During an hour-long meeting at Prime Minister Rutte’s home in The Hague, he urged Netanyahu to freeze construction in territories beyond the pre-1967 armistice lines, saying his government “finds a freeze would be extremely beneficial.”
At a press conference after the meeting, Netanyahu responded to a question by a Dutch journalist regarding construction in east Jerusalem by pointing out that construction “was not an issue” during the 18 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords. The Palestinian Authority is “using this as a pretext to avoid negotiations,” he said, adding that the settlements concern only 2 percent of the territories and are therefore a “side issue.”
Earlier in the day Netanyahu met with the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Dutch parliament and with Queen Beatrix.
Netanyahu’s day began with a meeting with Prof. Johan van Hulst, 101, who saved hundreds of Jewish children during the Holocaust by helping them to reach safe houses across Holland.
“We say those who save one life save a universe. You saved hundreds of universes,” Netanyahu told him. “I want to thank you in the name of the Jewish people, but also in the name of humanity.” The prime minister presented Van Hulst with a copy of the Bible.