Netanyahu met with Orban, Babis and Pellegrini in Jerusalem after Visegrad summit in Israel canceled; Hungary announces trade office, Slovakia cultural center in Jerusalem; Orban: EU needs new leaders not financing anti-Israel efforts.
Hungary announced it would open a trade office with diplomatic status in Jerusalem, Slovakia announcing it would open an innovation and cultural center in Israel’s capital city.
The announcements were made following meetings between Prime Minister Netanyahu with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban and Prime Minister of Slovakia, Peter Pellegrin, in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Netanyahu met with the leaders since the scheduled Visegrad Group summit in Israel was canceled after Poland announced it would not attend. The cancellation was due to a diplomatic altercation between Poland and Israel over remarks by Prime Minister Netanyahu made last week that there were Poles who cooperated with Nazi efforts.
Their talks centered on strengthening diplomatic ties, and increasing trade and cooperation.
Netanyahu addressed the meetings with the European leaders, announcing, “After months of efforts that I have led, today we have a very important achievement: Hungary has decided to open in Jerusalem a diplomatic branch of its embassy, and Slovakia has decided to open an innovation and cultural center in Jerusalem. This follows the Czech Republic announcement that it is opening a Czech House in Jerusalem.”
The prime minister held an extended meeting with Prime Minister Victor Orban, both leaders giving a press conference in Jerusalem. The leaders announced new cooperation in security and intelligence, as well as increased cooperation in the fields of “trade, science, technology, health, the environment and many others.”
Referring to his visit to Hungary last year, Netanyahu boasted on Israel’s increased ties and diplomatic progress with Hungary, thanking Orban for his country’s stance against anti-Semitism, last demonstrated in Hungary’s adopting of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definitions of anti-Semitism. He thanked the Hungarian premier, stating “I commend you for adopting the IHRA definition against anti-Semitism… yesterday. That’s important.” He added, “I want to thank you for deciding to extend the embassy of Hungary in Israel to Jerusalem. That is to have an extension in Jerusalem that deals with trade. This is important. It’s a sign of our friendship and it’s also a place that can welcome you to Jerusalem next time you come here. Welcome to Jerusalem today, and I can say next year in Jerusalem in the extension.”
Netanyahu spoke on the common challenge posed to Israel and Europe, that of radical Islamic terrorism. Referring to thwarted terror attacks from Iran in Denmark and France, the prime minister stated, “We recently saw Iran trying to stage terrorist attacks on the soil of Europe, in Denmark and France. We expect all European countries to join in the effort against the greatest sponsor of state terrorism which is the regime in Tehran.”
Orban spoke on his hopes the new trade office would serve as a “good step forward to even improve further the relationship between the Israeli people and Hungary,” and referred to the “210 [Israeli] companies active in Hungary providing jobs for 5,500 Hungarians,” stating to Netanyahu, “Your presence in Hungary is very important because we hope that you could be even stronger there.”
Referring to the recent 30th anniversary of the reestablishment of our diplomatic ties with Israel, the Hungarian prime minister stated “I would like to express our respect to the Israeli people and at the same time to Prime Minister Netanyahu because he played an important and inevitable role to reenergize and reopen the cooperation between Central Europe and Israel.”
On Hungary’s fight against anti-Israel efforts in Europe, specifically BDS, Orban announced, “we will make clear that we need new leaders and leadership in the European Union which never finances NGO’s anymore – from public European Union money – that are interfering in political issues and being anti-Israel. We don’t accept that kind of behavior and practice. Up to now, we have it so we would like to stop it.”
Netanyahu additionally confirmed his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for Thursday will be postponed a few days due to political developments ahead of Israel’s upcoming elections in April.