Hungarian Foreign Minister Set to Visit Israel, Meet Counterpart

Hungary is considered biggest supporter of Netanyahu's government in the EU, and the only member state that has yet to condemn its annexation plans

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Hungarian Foreign Affairs Minister Péter Szijjártó, July 14, 2020.
Hungarian Foreign Affairs Minister Péter Szijjártó, July 14, 2020.Credit: AFP
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó is set to visit Israel next week and meet with his counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi, amid growing voices in the European Union condemning Israel's annexation plans.

Hungary, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, is considered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's biggest supporter in the EU, and the only member state that has yet to condemn Israel's annexation plans, choosing to remain vague on the issue.

LISTEN: Protests, pandemics and Netanyahu's day of reckoningCredit: Haaretz

Ashkenazi spoke to Szijjártó in May and discussed the two countries' "common standpoint" on the issue of "retaining identity and the importance of sovereignty and security," as well as "action against illegal migration," the Hungarian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. But Ashkenazi's office denied the content of the conversation as described by his Hungarian counterpart.

According to the Hungarian statement, Szijjártó assured Ashkenazi that they will "continue to refrain from supporting statements that condemn Israel in both the EU and the United Nations, and also regards the procedure against Israel by the International Criminal Court as unfounded." However, the statement did not mention the issue of Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank.

On Tuesday, 11 European foreign ministers demanded that the European Union quickly formulate a list of possible responses to an Israeli annexation. In a letter sent to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday, they wrote that doing so is essential, because “the window to deter annexation is fast closing.”

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz, was signed by the foreign ministers of France, Italy, Holland, Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Portugal and Malta.

As part of Europe’s efforts to prevent annexation, several European leaders have phoned Netanyahu in recent weeks to urge him to halt steps toward annexation. They include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The phone calls were on top of the opposition they voiced in official letters sent when the government was sworn in this spring.

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