netanyahu leikanger
Yair Netanyahu and Sandra LeikangerFacebook

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been strongly criticized for not being able to prevent his son Yair, 23, from dating Sandra Leikanger, 25, a non-Jewish Norwegian girl.

Israel politician Shas MK Nissim Ze'ev said that Netanyahu failed to set example for the Jewish people, the Jerusalem Post reported.

"As the prime minister of Israel and the Jewish people, he must display national responsibility via the values he presents inside his own household. I bet it pains him. Any Jew who wants to maintain his roots wants to see his son marry a Jewish girl. There is no shortage of beautiful, successful girls without sowing in the fields of others," Ze'ev said.

Ze'ev saild also that Netanyahu should have understood the importance of representing the Jewish people and the beauty of Jewish values.

There was also criticism for Netanyahu from within his own party. "All I can say is that it is very unfortunate," MK Moshe Feiglin said.

The extremist Israeli organisation Lehava, which aims to prevent assimilation and intermarriage among Israelis, called on Netanyahu "to prevent this relationship".

Lehava operates a hotline which alerts volunteers of situations where Jewish girls are in relationships with non-Jews. Lehava was formed several years ago in response to reports that Jewish girls who had entered into relationships with non-Jews – mostly Arabs – were intimidated into staying in those relationships, and often ended up being abused, IsraelNationalNews reported.

David Breakstone, vice chairman of World Zionist Organization said he hopes that if the relationship becomes serious Leikanger would want to convert to Judaism.

"The laws should change in order to enable Leikanger to convert to Judaism as she and the Netanyahu family would understand it," Breakstone said.

"She should not be limited to a Judaism as understood and interpreted by a Chief Rabbinate with an antiquated interpretation of Judaism that is out of sync with the majority of Jews around the world."

Benjamin Netanyahu's second wife, Fleur Cates, was a non-Jewish woman of British origin who converted to Judaism.

According to Norwegian newspaper Dagen, when Netanyahu met Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in Davos last week, he spoke of his son's relationship with Leikanger.

Netanyahu reportedly told Solberg that his son travelled with Leikanger, Norway over the summer, and that the two had been dating for months.

According to the Dagen, Leikanger comes from the southern Norwegian city of Grimstad, which is known for its conservative Christian population.

Some photos of the couple have been gained from Leikanger's Facebook profile. The pictures have been made private ever since.