Pro-Israel parties gain a foothold in the Netherlands after a surprising election result

Geert Wilders leader of the Freedom Party (PVV) and a staunch pro-Israel supporter won 37 seats in the Dutch parliament paving the way for a far-right victory.

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

Pro-Israel parties found themselves in a commanding position on Thursday morning following the prior day’s elections in the Netherlands which resulted in the country’s main far-right leader winning a plurality of votes.

“The PVV can no longer be ignored,” Geert Wilders — leader of the Freedom Party (PVV) and a veteran campaigner against migration — said as his party headed to win 37 of the 150 seats in the Dutch parliament in the surprise outcome. “We will govern.”

Wilders is a vocal supporter of Israel. Following the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel, he has backed Israel’s military response, declaring in one recent tweet that “Hamas needs to be eliminated. We have to fully support Israel and the Jewish people!” He has also advocated moving the Dutch Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and has described the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as a Palestinian state already in existence.

However, concerns about renewed conflict in the Middle East and rising antisemitism at home were far from the minds of Dutch voters on Wednesday, the Dutch Jewish news outlet Jonet observed in an editorial on Thursday.

“Jewish topics such as antisemitism, the Middle East conflict, ritual slaughter, or Jewish special education did not play a major role in the 2023 parliamentary election campaign,” the editors wrote. “This makes sense, because Jews in the Netherlands only form a group of 40,000 residents and because many non-Jews are not engaged with these subjects either. Partly because the previous cabinet fell on the failed asylum agreement, migration became the main subject of the campaign. Coincidentally, the parties who want a stricter and fairer migration policy are also more pro-Jewish and pro-Israel.”

A government led by Wilders is far from guaranteed, as the PVV needs at least 39 more parliamentary seats to form a ruling coalition. One option, as Jonet pointed out, would bring the PVV together with three other parties with pro-Israel records.

The three parties are the BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB — “Farmers and Citizens Movement”), the New Social Contract (NSC), and the centrist People’s Party (VVD).

The tally of seats for the BBB — a populist party with an agrarian base — rose from one to seven. According to Jonet, the party is “pro-Jewish and pro-Israeli” and has endorsed the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism which includes several examples of anti-Zionism. The center-right NSC, launched only last August, increased its share from one seat to 20; party leader Pieter Omtzigt “was known as pro-Jewish and pro-Israel with his voting behavior in the parliament,” Jonet said.

The VVD, led by Dilan Yesilgöz, decreased its share of seats by 10, ending up with 24. Yesilgöz has been a consistent supporter of Israel and may be tempted to work with Wilders. On Thursday morning, she told the Dutch broadcaster NOS that she would not rule out joining a PVV-led government. “We really need to let it sink in and see what exactly happened and what the voters said,” she said of the surprise result. “We are not there yet.”

Wilders’ success marks a historic moment for Europe’s far-right, anti-migration parties. While they have triumphed electorally in recent years in many parts of Eastern Europe, including Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, western Europe had proved more elusive until Wilders’ breakthrough on Wednesday.