Hungarian PM Viktor Orban to Visit Israel Next Month

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Netanyahu and Orban in Budapest, Hungary, July 19, 2017.
Netanyahu and Orban in Budapest, Hungary, July 19, 2017.Credit: Bloomberg

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is slated to visit Israel on July 19.

The visit was coordinated at a meeting of national security advisers of the Visegrad group, which was also attended by Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat. The Visegrad group, also known as V4, includes Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

During the meeting, first reported by Channel 10, Ben-Shabbat was a main speaker at the gathering.

Meanwhile, Haaretz has learned that Netanyahu is expected to visit Romania during the second week of August for an intergovernmental meeting in Bucharest. Netanyahu's visit follows an April visit in Israel by Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila.

Orban was recently reelected in an April election fought on a fiercely anti-immigration platform that demonized Jewish American billionaire George Soros and liberal NGOs he backs. Last week, Hungary's parliament approved legislation that criminalizes some help given to illegal immigrants.

Under the new law, officially called "STOP Soros," individuals or groups who help migrants not entitled to protection to submit requests for asylum or who help illegal migrants gain status to stay in Hungary will be liable to prison terms.

Netanyahu made a congratulatory phone call to Orban after his reelection and invited him to visit Israel.

In February, Netanyahu met a senior foreign policy adviser to Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto. The two discussed the possibility that Israel will host a meeting of the Visegrad group.

If Netanyahu’s efforts bear fruit and the summit is held in Israel, it will mark a new level in relations with these Central European counties, whose governments are considered the most right-wing in Europe.

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