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FM Katz: Israel expects relations with Europe to improve under Hungarian EU Council presidency

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz meets with Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó in Budapest, June 17, 2024 (Photo: Israel's Foreign Ministry)

Hungary is next in line to take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union on July 1 and Israel hopes its relationship with the 27-member EU nations will improve as a result, according to Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz.

During a visit to Hungary on Monday, Katz said: “The period of the Hungarian Presidency is an unprecedented opportunity to improve Israel’s position in the European Union” despite “the plots” that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell “has tried to promote against us.”

The EU Council Presidency rotates every six months, with the previous two presidencies held by Spain and Belgium, respectively. Both countries have been very critical of Israel since the war began last October, with Spain, Norway and Ireland formally recognizing a Palestinian state in late May, and Belgium advocating sanctions against Israel over its military operations in Gaza.

The Belgian government has also called for EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell to review the EU-Israel Association Agreement in light of the war in Gaza and to stop all weapons sales to Israel as a means of putting pressure on Israel to halt its military campaigns.

According to Katz, Hungary is planning to arrange a meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council, and Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó extended an invitation to Katz to attend, which he accepted.

Katz called Hungary a “true friend” of Israel.

“Excellent meeting with my friend, Hungarian FM Péter Szijjártó,” Katz wrote on 𝕏. “Hungary is a true friend that stands by us in the toughest times – and the State of Israel deeply appreciates it. We discussed efforts to free the hostages, our war against the extremist Islamic axis led by Iran, and a range of other important issues. We agreed that Israel will participate in the Association Council under the upcoming Hungarian presidency of the EU – to improve Israel's status in the EU, together with Hungary and other friendly countries within the EU.”

Katz hopes Hungary will strengthen EU sanctions against Iran and prevent nuclear armament to avoid war.

“Hungary’s leadership in the union can continue the sanctions against Iran and its attempts to arm itself with nuclear weapons. It is important that the union, alongside the US and other countries, stands up against Iran to prevent an all-out war,” he said.

In February, Hungary was the only EU member nation to block attempts by the European Union to issue a consensus statement against the anticipated Israeli military operation against Hamas in the southern Gaza town of Rafah.

In January 2023, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán described the State of Israel and the Republic of Hungary as two “successful conservative countries.”

However, Hungary has reportedly been strengthening its relations with Iran.

In February, Szijjártó traveled to Tehran, where he met with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and signed a food and agriculture trade deal with the Islamic Republic.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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