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Orbán meets Netanyahu in Jerusalem

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday, where he stressed the Hungarian governmentʼs zero tolerance policy with regard to anti-Semitism. Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó met with various Israeli officials to discuss trade and investment issues.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (left) meets with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday (photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI).

Orbán said that he has the same views as the prime minister of Israel with regard to several 21st century issues, including security, combating terrorism, the defense of borders, and the problem of modern-day anti-Semitism, according to Hungarian government website kormany.hu. We live in a time in which anti-Semitism is on the decline in Central Europe, but on the rise in Western Europe, Orbán noted.

Orbán said that citizens of Jewish origin in Hungary are under the government’s protection, and “we are proud” that people who openly declare their Jewish roots can feel safe in Hungary. He added that Hungary has done much to assist in the cultural rebuilding of the Jewish community, with the renovation of synagogues and support for education.

The prime minister stressed that Hungary will always take action to ensure that international organizations treat Israel in a fair, balanced and unbiased manner, kormany.hu noted, adding that Hungary will continue to closely cooperate with Israel in international forums.

Orbán also told the press that economic cooperation between the two countries is strong, with 200 Israeli businesses operating in Hungary, providing jobs for 5,000 people – primarily in the field of modern technology.

Netanyahu called the Hungarian premierʼs visit a very important step in bilateral relations between the two countries, noting that he also represents the other Visegrád Group countries, namely the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, MTI reported.

Orbán was later scheduled to have talks with President of Israel Reuven Rivlin and to meet Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau.

Szijjártó in talks on technology and trade

Also in Jersusalem Thursday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó met with Israelʼs Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and Yuval Rotem, director general of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The success of Hungarian-Israeli economic relations is extremely important with regard to maintaining the growth trajectory of the Hungarian economy,” Szijjártó was cited as stating to public media.

Szijjártó said that the success of Hungaryʼs economy would be determined by the degree of its involvement in developments that shape the next generation of the automotive industry. He noted that Israel is at the forefront of developing technologies such as self-driving vehicles, electromobility and artificial intelligence that will drive the industry in the future.

Szijjártó recalled that a EUR 2 million joint innovation fund established last year had supported seven Hungarian-Israeli R&D projects. This year, the fundʼs allocation could be raised to EUR 10 mln, he added. 

The foreign minister added that deliveries of gas to Central Europe from an Israeli offshore field with some 800 billion cubic meters of reserves could start in 2024 or 2025.