update desk

Hungary moving embassy to Jerusalem—report

President says no decision has yet been made on whether it will become the first E.U. member to move its legation to Israel’s capital.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto in Jerusalem, March 19, 2019. Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto in Jerusalem, March 19, 2019. Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO.

Hungary is reportedly preparing to move its embassy to Jerusalem next month, although the European country’s president said that no official decision has been made.

Zman Israel reported on Friday that Hungary would become the first European Union member state to open an embassy in Israel’s capital. Senior Israeli Foreign Ministry officials told the newspaper that an agreement was reached following “intensive” negotiations between Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and his Hungarian counterpart Péter Szijjártó.

Hungarian President Katalin Novák clarified on Friday that Budapest had not made a decision on the Jerusalem move. “I also read news in the press. In Hungary, a decision so far has not been made on moving our embassy in Israel,” Reuters quoted Novak as saying during a press conference while visiting Prague.

The European Union criticized the potential move by one of its members, with the organization’s foreign policy spokesperson Peter Stano citing U.N. Security Council Resolution 478, which was adopted in 1980 and called on all U.N. member states to withdraw their embassies and diplomatic missions from Jerusalem. At the time, there were 11 embassies in Israel’s capital. The resolution passed in a 14-0 vote with the United States abstaining.

In recent years, some countries have decided to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following the lead of the U.S., which did so in 2018 under President Donald Trump.

Hungary would join the U.S., Honduras, Guatemala and Kosovo in recognizing Israel’s capital. Last month, Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced that Papua New Guinea would open its first embassy in Israel in Jerusalem this year.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has maintained close ties with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since Orbán took office in 2010. In March 2019, Budapest opened a diplomatic trade mission in Jerusalem. Orbán made the announcement during a visit to Israel in February 2019, with Netanyahu at the time thanking him for “deciding to extend the embassy of Hungary in Israel to Jerusalem, that is to have an extension in Jerusalem that deals with trade.”

Netanyahu also said at the time that there was space available next to the U.S. embassy for a new Hungarian embassy.

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