Former Dutch prime minister Dries van Agt has described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a war criminal who should be tried in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

His comments come ahead of Mr Netanyahu’s visit to The Netherlands this week.

Speaking to Dutch television channel NPO 1, Mr van Agt said: “There’s a war criminal coming to this country.

“The occupation and expansion… building of settlements, of occupied territory, this is according to the Rome Statute, which is… the statute on which the international criminal court is based, in so many words, a war crime.

In a rambling interview, the 85-year old, who was prime minister of The Netherlands for five years until 1982, added: “So why should we receive someone who continues with such things?

“We could have sent him straight away to the international criminal court – that would have been better.”

Mr Van Agt has been highly critical of Israel in recent years, despite supporting the state during his years in office.

In 2012, he caused controversy after saying Jews should have built a state in Germany rather than in the Middle East.

Dutch pro-Israel group Likoed Nederland said in a statement on Monday: “Van Agt merits no serious podium”.

Mr Netanyahu’s official visit to the Netherlands includes meetings with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who he calls a “personal friend”, and with King Willem-Alexander.