New Austrian gov. vows to fight anti-Zionism alongside antisemitism

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservative People’s Party and Green Party leader Werner Kogler presented their government’s program.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz at the memorial "The Massif of Names" in Belarus  (photo credit: ARNO MELICHAREK)
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz at the memorial "The Massif of Names" in Belarus
(photo credit: ARNO MELICHAREK)
The new coalition government in Austria pledged to fight anti-Zionism in addition to antisemitism, in its written program released on Thursday.
As a part of that fight, Austria will not support any initiatives in international organizations, like the UN, that question Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservative People’s Party and Green Party leader Werner Kogler presented their government’s program, which includes their Israel policy, in a press conference in Vienna on Thursday.
Although Kogler said after the election in September that the next government would have to bring “radical change” from the last government’s right-wing agenda – and the previous government was very supportive of Israel – its policy statement is not a departure from that of the past.
Austrian Ambassador to Israel Hannah Liko said the new government program is a “continuation and further development” of the last one. “It is definitely a step forward” in Israeli-Austrian relations, Liko said.
The program calls for the “resolute implementation” of the Austria-initiated 2018 European Council declaration on the fight against antisemitism, which calls for EU member states to increase security for Jewish communities and institutions, as well as “to adopt and implement a holistic strategy to prevent and fight all forms of antisemitism as part of their strategies on preventing racism, xenophobia, radicalization and violent extremism.”
It also adopts the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, which includes denying Jews self-determination as one of its examples of antisemitism. The Austrian government program also specifies that “Israel’s right to exist must not be questioned.”
“Austria has a special historical responsibility, as well as a current bond to the State of Israel. We are committed to the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and in particular to its security,” the program reads.
As for international organizations, such as the UN, the coalition agreement says, “Austria will not support any initiatives and resolutions...that contradict Austria’s commitment to Israel as laid out above.”
The new government program continues Austria’s support for a two-state solution, in which Israel has “recognized and permanently secure borders,” and a Palestinian state is “independent, democratic and viable.”
Austria will also support Palestinian civil society initiatives to create democratic institutions, as it has in the past.
In the Austrian election in September, Kurz’s People’s Party increased its share of the vote to 37%, but its coalition partner, the far-right Freedom Party, dropped significantly to 16%. The Greens won 14% of the vote.
Israel did not have relations with the Freedom Party and its representatives, because of its former leaders’ Nazi past and antisemitism.
The party’s leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, resigned from the last government – triggering an election – after he was caught promising government contracts to a woman he thought was related to a Russian oligarch.


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