Hungarian FM makes solidarity visit with Israel amid COVID-19, annexation
Szijjártó will only visit Jerusalem, where he will meet with Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Science Minister Yizhar Shay.
By TOVAH LAZAROFF, LAHAV HARKOVPublished: JULY 20, 2020 10:21Advertisement
Staunch Israeli ally Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó is scheduled to visit Israel on Monday to sign a deal with regard to space research, as other European allies are warning of weakened ties due Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to annex portions of the West Bank.Hungary and Israel have tight ties and the country is considered to be a very “close friend” of Israel, Avi Nir-Feldklein, the head of the Foreign Ministry’s Europe department, told reporters on Sunday in advance of the half-day-visit.Szijjártó will only visit Jerusalem, where he will meet with Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Science Minister Yizhar Shay.The Hungarian Foreign Minister has made a number of visits to Israel. Unlike last month’s visit by Germany Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to warn Israel against annexation, Szijjártó’s trip is viewed as a sign of friendship between the two nations.Hungary has worked to block anti-Israel moves in the European Union. Last year, Szijjártó visited Israel to open a trade office in Jerusalem, in a show of support for the US’s decision to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to the capital.Hungary has expressed support for US Donald Trump’s peace plan. In June Szijjártó visited the US and met with Jared Kushner, who is Trump’s son-in-law and special envoy who authored the US peace plan.“Hungary ... will continue to oppose unilateral and unjust international political approaches against Israel,” Szijjártó wrote on Facebook on June 10, as Maas flew to Israel to warn against annexation.Hungary is one of eight countries, which has argued that the International Criminal Court lacks the jurisdiction to hear war crimes suits that related to activities in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza.The Hungarian Foreign Minister made similar statements in May, after his first conversation with Ashkenazi, who had just become foreign minister.The Hungarian readout of the call said their governments "are founded on patriotic, national values" and "are being attacked in international political life as a result of hypocrisy, bias and political correctness."It also said "Hungary and Israel share a common standpoint with relation to the issue of retaining identity and the importance of sovereignty and security, as well as with respect to the need to take action against illegal migration."The statement originally said that Szijjártó and Ashkenazi both said those things, but the Israeli foreign ministry distanced itself from the remarks, and then Budapest said the readout had been mistranslated from Hungarian.Hungary has also worked with Israel to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Celitron, a subsidiary of the Israeli company BATM Advanced Communications, is for example, producing ventilators in Hungary necessary for the treatment of COVID-19.“We appreciate Hungary’s activities [on Israel’s behalf] in the International sphere and in Brussels. We appreciate their opening of a trade office in March 2019, which is an extension of their embassy in Jerusalem,” Nir-Feldklein said.“We have good economic cooperation with Hungary,” this includes close ties with many ministries and office in Israel, including science and health.“During COVID-19, an Israeli company has begun to produce ventilators, something that is very important to us and to them,” Nir-Feldklein said.Hungary has a Jewish community of 70,000, which receives a lot of support from government, including to synagogues and Jewish institutions, Nir-Feldklein explainedHe credited in particular Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban with helping create close ties between Israel and the Visegrad group, which is special group of four eastern bloc countries: Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.Hungary and Israel established diplomatic ties upon the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, but that relationship was severed during the Six-Day War in 1967, when Hungary was a Soviet bloc country. Those ties were re-established in 1989, as the Soviet Union collapsed.
var cont = `Sign up for The Jerusalem Post Premium Plus for just $5
Upgrade your reading experience with an ad-free environment and exclusive content