Israeli Lawmakers to Discuss Boycott of Austrian Far-right Cabinet Ministers

Session to be held following a meeting by Likud lawmaker and leader of Austria's Freedom Party

Likud MK Yehuda Glick stands to clap for U.S. President Mike Pence as he delivers a speech at the Knesset on January 21, 2018.
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Members of Knesset will discuss Israel's position on Austria's far-right Freedom Party, a part of Chancellor Sabastian Kurz's governing coalition known for its Nazi roots.

The Knesset approved on Monday request by lawmaker Yehuda Glick (Likud) that the prestigious Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee hold a debate on Israel's "boycott of the Austrian Freedom Party."

In December, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the foreign affairs portfolio, said that Israel will boycott Austria's far-right ministers, instructing Israeli ministers to work only with lower-ranking officials. Chancellor Kurz said that he respects Israel's decision.

Last week, Glick met with Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache and Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl – both members of the Freedom Party. Strache, who was appointed in December, heads the party. Critics say the party has not yet relieved itself of its past, while Strache has been trying to present himself as pro-Israel in recent years.

Following the meeting, Glick requested that Knesset officials hold an urgent discussion in order to reevaluate the Israeli government's current position boycotting the party.

Glick  defended his Vienna meetings, tweeting that "Israel turns the world to fight the boycott against it and those branding the products from Judea and Sumaria is itself in partnership of this boycott. At the same time, [the Israeli government] boycotts a party in Austria that 25 percent of its voters voted for and its ministers make up 40% of the government's ministers."

Netanyahu and Kurz met on the sidelines of the security conference in Munich this weekend. This was the first meeting between the two leaders since Netanyahu announced the boycott on Kurz's Freedom  Party cabinet ministers.