Former Brussels climate commissioner Frans Timmermans is frustrated about climate activist Greta Thunberg’s turn to radical politics, he says.
Timmermans, also a former Dutch foreign minister, stood down as the EU’s climate supremo in August to contest the Netherlands’s November 22 elections. He heads a Green-Labour alliance and hopes to be prime minister.
He is “very sorry” Thunberg brought the Israel-Hamas war into Sunday’s climate march in Amsterdam.
“That’s the opposite of what we need”, he tells a Dutch television last night.
“I would really like it if everyone cared about the climate and not just one side of the political spectrum”, Timmermans says.
Lijsttrekker van GroenLinks-PvdA @F__Timmermans vindt het "heel jammer" dat Greta Thunberg tijdens de Klimaatmars aandacht vroeg voor de Palestijnse zaak. "Tot voor kort was de klimaatbeweging niet politiek. Zij trekt het nu in politieke controverse. Mensen haken af." #WNL pic.twitter.com/NyRTvpBqd6
— WNL Vandaag (@WNLVandaag) November 15, 2023
Thunberg’s pro-Palestinian advocacy added a “needless political controversy” into the demonstration, he says.
He is not convinced Thunberg should still serve as the climate movement’s face, Timmermans said.
Sunday’s march, with 85,000 participants, was the country’s biggest climate march ever.
Before Thunberg spoke, a Palestinian woman named Sarah began singing “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.
Some perceive the slogan as anti-Semitic. Its use has been increasingly common in the last month, which has featured both the Israel-Hamas war and a 7 October terrorist attack in Brussels.
The organisers cut off the woman’s microphone, causing the crowd to boo.
Responding to the incident, Thunberg then said “as a climate justice movement, we have to listen to the voices of those who are being oppressed.”
There “can be no climate justice without international solidarity,” and “people in power have not been listening”, she added.
A man then walked on to the stage, took Thunberg’s microphone and said he had “come here for a climate demonstration and not a political view.”
This man was ushered off the stage, as Thunberg and a group of her followers began shouting “no climate justice on occupied land”, referring to the war in Israel.
The Swedish activist, speaking in a traditional black and white Palestinian scarf, said the… pic.twitter.com/Ma7HGBcolw
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) November 12, 2023
Israeli officials have called Thunberg a “terror supporter” for her frequent pro-Palestinian messages online.
It has come to my knowledge that the stuffed animal shown in my earlier post can be interpreted as a symbol for antisemitism, which I was completely unaware of. The toy in the picture is a tool often used by autistic people as a way to communicate feelings.
We are of course…
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) October 20, 2023
A cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war is “necessary” to alleviate suffering in Gaza, says Timmermans.
“If you look at it objectively, Israel’s current strategy is no longer viable,” he says.
He supports Israel’s efforts to eliminate Hamas, but “bombing does not destroy them either”, he argued.
Worldwide support for Israel is “crumbling” as a result of the bombardment of Gaza, he said.
Timmermans has faced criticism for his vocal support for Israel, especially from his Green alliance partners.