Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the Hungarian Foreign Minister at the dedication ceremony of the Hungarian diplomatic mission in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto formally opened a diplomatic trade mission in Jerusalem on Tuesday, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed as “the first European diplomatic mission opened in Jerusalem in many decades.”
Netanyahu, speaking at the inauguration of the office in Jerusalem’s City Tower Building, said three Hungarian diplomats will be appointed to the office for trade purposes, something he said was important “for trade, for diplomacy and for the movement Hungary is leading right now to change the attitude in Europe toward Jerusalem.”
The opening of the delegation comes a month after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, here along with the leaders of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, pledged to open a trade delegation with “diplomatic status” in Jerusalem. It is the “diplomatic status” that distinguishes the Hungarian delegation from other offices which European countries have established in the city.
“We will have an official presence in Jerusalem,” Orban said. “So I hope it will be a good step forward to improve even more the relationship between the Israeli people and Hungary.”
Netanyahu expressed gratitude to Orban for carrying out what he had promised within a month. He said that Israel was pleased with the friendship between Israel and Hungary, saying it has “never been as strong.”
The prime minister also said that cooperation between the two countries across all fields – trade, security and diplomacy – “has never been stronger.”
Netanyahu said he was grateful to Hungary for fighting the “falsehoods and slanders” against Israel in international forums, and also for its “stance against antisemitism, which has been robust, important and consistent.”
Netanyahu’s comments about Hungary’s stand against antisemitism come even though Orban has been accused, including by some in the Hungarian Jewish community, of using antisemitic imagery and themes in his campaign against George Soros.
Netanyahu urged Hungary to continue in its stance against antisemitism and urged it to adopt – as a handful of other European countries have done – the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.
Szijjarto, in his second visit here in a month, said Hungary has always fought for Israel to receive “fair and balanced” treatment in the international community. He added that Budapest rejects attempts to link “restrictive economic and commercial measures” with political issues.
The Hungarian foreign minister made clear that his country will not implement EU recommendations to label products coming from the settlements, or support efforts to create a blacklist of companies doing business beyond the Green Line.
Szijjarto said his country wants “tighter, better and more dynamic cooperation” between Israel and the EU.
Among those at the ceremony were US Ambassador David Friedman, US Ambassador to Hungary David Cornstein and Czech Ambassador to Israel Martin Stropnicky.
The US opened its embassy in Jerusalem last May, and the Czech Republic set up a trade and tourism office in the capital in November.
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