Netanyahu to Austria's Kurz: 'You are a great leader for Austria’

“I am delighted to see you again, Sebastian. You have been a tremendous friend of the state of Israel , a champion of fighting antisemitism, and great leader for Austria,” Netanyahu said.

July 10, 2019 16:49
2 minute read.
Netanyahu to Austria's Kurz: 'You are a great leader for Austria’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provided Austrian People's Party head Sebastian Kurz. (photo credit: KOBI GIDON / GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provided Austrian People’s Party head Sebastian Kurz with a great sound byte in his current election campaign to become chancellor again, calling him a “great leader for Austria.”

Kurz, who was ousted as chancellor in May in a no-confidence vote after some 18 months in power, is running in an election at the end of September to regain that position. He arrived in Israel on Tuesday for a one-day visit widely considered as effort to underline his diplomatic credentials in the run-up to the elections. Kurz visited Berlin and met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week.

“I am delighted to see you again, Sebastian,” Netanyahu said in brief comments filmed before the meeting. “You have been a tremendous friend of the State of Israel, a champion of fighting antisemitism and great leader for Austria. It is good to see you back in Jerusalem.”

Kurz, who developed a strong working relationship with Netanyahu – first as Austrian foreign minister from 2013 -2017, and then as chancellor from December 2017 to May – thanked the prime minister for taking the time to meet him and for giving him an “overview” of the challenges in the region.

After that meeting, Kurz posted on his Twitter account a photo of him sitting with Netanyahu, along with the caption “The Iranian threats against Israel are absolutely unacceptable.”

Kurz tweeted that he and Netanyahu discussed “border management measures & the prevention of illegal migration.” This is one of Austria’s major domestic issues.

He also tweeted that Israel’s “security is a top priority for us and it is vital that #Iran complies to all elements of the nuclear agreement.”

Before meeting Netanyahu, Kurz met with a group of Holocaust survivors, and afterward posted a photo on Twitter of that meeting, thanking the participants for sharing “their moving stories with me.”

“Our generation must take its responsibility very seriously and never forget the horrible crimes of the #Shoah,” he wrote. “I am absolutely committed to ensuring the safety of Jews in Austria, #Israel and all over the world.”

While he was chancellor, Kurz – despite his coalition with the far-right Freedom Party – emerged as one of Israel’s closest friends in the European Union. During a visit in June 2018, he said that as a perpetrator of Nazi crimes, Austria had a special responsibility towards Jews and towards Israel.

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