Austria plans to back Israel’s bid for its first-ever seat on the UN Security Council, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday.He also pledged to improve ties between Israel and the EU when his country takes over the rotating six-month position of president of the Council of the European Union in July.
The meeting, their first since Kurz became chancellor in December, was held on the sidelines of the annual Munich Security Conference.Kurz, who is a former foreign minister, is seen as a friend of Israel, even though his government includes the far-right Freedom Party, founded in 1956 by former Nazis. Israel maintains good ties with Austria but is refusing to meet with ministers from the Freedom Party.On Friday, Kurz and Netanyahu pledged that their countries would support each other. Kurz’s statements to the press after the meeting were provided to The Jerusalem Post by Netanyahu’s office.Kurz said there was a strong connection between Israel and Austria and that Austria had a historic responsibility toward Israel.He explained that his country recognized Israel as a Jewish state, and that he had worked to combat antisemitism.“We agreed to strengthen our bilateral relations, but also to cooperate more closely in multilateral forums. That’s why we agreed to support each other mutually in our bids for a non-permanent seat for the UN Security Council,” Kurz said.“So when Israel runs for such a non-permanent seat in the UNSC, Austria will support Israel’s candidacy [and vice versa],” Kurz said.The Security Council has 15 members, of which 10 hold seats for two-year terms.
PM Netanyahu Meets Austria"s Sebastian Kurz, May 2016. (YouTube/IsraeliPM)