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Israel to accept invitation to attend an EU-Israel Association Council but only when Hungary chairs the EU Council

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At a meeting in Budapest, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz told his Hungarian counterpart Péter Szijjártó that Hungary’s EU presidency, that will start in July, is “an unprecedented opportunity to improve Israel’s position in the EU.” Israel will accept an EU invitation to Foreign Minister Israel Katz to participate in a meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council in Brussels but only after Hungary takes over the presidency of the EU Council in July.

This is what Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz told his Hungarian counterpart Péter Szijjártó during a meeting Monday in Budapest.

Last month, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said EU Foreign Ministers  reached unanimity to call for a meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council ‘’to discuss the situation in Gaza and the respect of human rights under the obligations that Israel has assumed under this agreement.’’

They also want to discuss with the “Netanyahu government’’ as Borell insisted during a press conference following a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, how it plans to implement the ruling of the International Court of  Justice (ICJ)  which ordered Israel to halt its intended military offensive in the city of Rafah.

‘’What we have seen since the Court has issued its ruling: not a stop of the military activities, but on the contrary, an increase in the military activities, an increase in the bombing and an increase in the casualties of the civilian people, as we have seen last night,’’ Borrell said.

The EU-Israel Association Council is a body which governs bilateral EU-Israel relations. It is composed of the Israeli Foreign Minister and the 27 EU Foreign Ministers. The Council convened in October 2022 in Brussels after a hiatus of ten years due to disagreements on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

Israeli Foreign Minister Katz told Szijjártó that Hungary’s EU presidency is “an unprecedented opportunity to improve Israel’s position in the EU.”

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Hungary, which is Israel’s best friend within the EU, will take over the six-month  EU presidency from Belgium, a country which is less friendly towards Jerusalem.

The upcoming Hungarian European Union presidency would strive to “restore cooperation between the EU and Israel to the level of mutual respect,” Szijjártó said during joint a press conference with Katz,  urging the sides to conduct a dialogue and “suppress the tone of reprimanding and lecturing”. He added the Hungarian presidency would make preparations for association talks between the EU and Israel “in that spirit”.

The Hungarian Foreign Minister expressed deep concern over increasing anti-Israeli tendencies in international organisations. “Israel is entitled to fair and equal treatment in international organisations,” the foreign ministry quoted Szijjártó as saying, adding that the Hungarian government had always thwarted “unilateral, biased attacks and statements against Israel, and will continue to do so in future.”

Mounting modern-age anti-Semitism in Europe “is the result of an absolutely irresponsible migration policy, under which a vociferous minority can often override the will of a quiet majority,” Szijjártó said.

Katz thanked the Hungarian government for its support, adding: “Hungary is a true friend to Israel, their ties being founded on respect.”  He said Hungary’s fight against anti-Semitism was exemplary, and wished to see similar efforts “in western Europe and in other parts of the world.”

During his visit in Budapest, Katz also met with the head of Hungary’s Jewish Community and laid a wreath at the country’s Tree of Life Holocaust memorial in the Hungarian capital.

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