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Orbán travels to Israel on two-day official visit

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán begins an official visit to Israel on Wednesday afternoon, where he will have talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin. Four government ministers will be included in Orbán’s delegation, according to an annoucement from the PMʼs press chief.

The two prime ministers will meet on Thursday morning, according to official Hungarian government website kormany.hu. Their talks will be followed by a plenary meeting, in which Hungary will also be represented by Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó, Antal Rogán, the minister heading the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister, and Gergely Gulyás, the minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office.

Orbán will also have talks with the Israeli head of state, following which he will meet prominent Israelis of Hungarian origin or with other ties to Hungary, the official statement added.

During his visit to Jerusalem, the prime minister will meet Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau, and will visit the Yad Vashem centre,  Israelʼs official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, where he will lay a wreath and plant a tree in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations.

Online news service index.hu notes that Orbán will not visit the Palestinian territories during his visit, the second EU leader to ignore this convention after Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz last month.

Index.hu also notes that Orbánʼs visit is not universally welcomed in Israel. The local organization of Amnesty International has called on the head of Yad Vashem not to accept Orbán, and is organizing a demonstration against the visit, citing - among other issues - the perceived anti-Semitic overtones of the Hungarian governmentʼs recent campaign against Hungarian-born investor George Soros.

The Jerusalem Post noted today ahead of the visit that among EU countries, Hungary has consistently abstained rather than vote against Israel in the UN. Among such instances it cited, Hungary abstained last December in the UN General Assembly vote condemning the U.S. for moving its embassy to Jerusalem; as well as last month, when the general assembly condemned the Gaza violence and passed a resolution calling for protection of the Palestinian civilian population.

Hungary was also instrumental in thwarting an EU resolution in December that would have condemned the U.S. for its decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, the Israeli paper added.