It's Official: Hungarian PM Viktor Orban to Visit Israel July 18-20

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Viktor Orban, Hungary's prime minister in Budapest, Hungary, on Wednesday, July 19, 2017.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Viktor Orban, Hungary's prime minister in Budapest, Hungary, on Wednesday, July 19, 2017.Credit: Balazs Mohai/AP

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban visit to Israel was confimed by the Foreign Ministry on Sunday. The visit is will take place between July 18-20, with no further given as of yet regarding its itinerary.

On Thursday, Israeli lawmakers urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel the visit, citing, among other things, Orban's recurrent use of "propaganda with a whiff of anti-Semitism." 

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.

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

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.

Also Thursday, Haaretz learned Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is planning a visit to Israel in September, with talks to coordinate the meeting taking place between the two countries.

Duterte is also considered a controversial figure among world leaders, and garnered some infamy in Israel when he compared himself to Hitler in his crusade against drug dealers in the Philippines.

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