FPO head Strache
Head of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPO) Heinz-Christian Strache (C) holds a wreath during a ceremony at "The Valley of the Communities" monument, which bears engravings with the names of some 5,000 Jewish communities destroyed by the Nazis or their collaborators at Yad Vashem's Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Members of Israel's ruling Likud party met an Austrian far-right party leader when he visited Israel despite government advice warning them not too. Heinz-Christian Strache is head of Austria's Freedom party, which has been criticised for antisemitism and supporting Nazi ideals.

The Israeli government views the Freedom Party as anti-Semitic, racist and xenophobic with the country's foreign ministry implementing an official sanction prohibiting meetings between government representatives and Freedom Party members. But a number of ministers met Strache during his visit in which he visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial.

In what looks like an attempt by the far-right party to reach out to with Israel's right-wing government, Strache confirmed he had met several cabinet ministers. European right-wing leaders have been working with the Israelis in an attempt to stifle Islamic fundamentalism in the region.

The populist Freedom Party (FPO) was founded in 1956 by members across Austria's political spectrum, including former members of Germany's Nazi party – its first party leader was a former Nazi Minister of Agriculture and SS officer Anton Reinthaller.

Strache has slammed Muslims in the west for a lack of integration, claiming that the migration crisis could lead to the "dangerous Islamisation" of Europe. He is also a fierce critic of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her open-door immigration policy. And he once posted a cartoon on Facebook showing a Jewish banker benefiting from the financial crisis.

Senior politicians snub far-right leader

But despite this Strache still sought a meeting with Shimon Peres, the former Israeli president. His request was snubbed, with Israel's former leader saying the 46-year-old politician was "unworthy of meeting Mr Peres".

Israel's foreign ministry, led by PM Benjamin Netanyahu, has long boycotted the FPO, but the former dentist was invited by Likud, which is also led by Netanyahu. Israel's PM refused to meet Strache.

Criticism has been vented at the party, but Avi Dichter, a Likud member and former chief of Israel's spy agency Shin Bet, told Haaretz the meeting was solely about dealing with terrorism.

"They wanted to know how we deal with terrorism. It was an interesting meeting," said Dichter. "I'm not a member of cabinet, I'm member of Knesset and if I want to meet someone I decide it myself. I'm the son of Holocaust survivors and I'm in touch with quite a few people whose opinions I don't like.

"Most of the Arabs I've met are also not my cup of tea. I think it's not easy to decide to refrain from meeting with someone who could be the next Austrian Chancellor – [even] with his past – there should be a good reason for that."