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Jerusalem Post Explains Hungarian Veto on EU’s Rafah Offensive Statement

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Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz

Hungarian diplomacy has twice blocked an EU statement against the Israel Defense Force’s planned military operation against Hamas in Rafah in the Gaza Strip, that called for a “humanitarian pause” to the military operations, The Jerusalem Post has reported. The question is, what political interest lead Hungary to go its own path against the rest of EU member states again.

Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, had reportedly attempted to issue a consensus statement that would have been signed by all 27 member states. The statement would have called for an immediate halt to Israeli plans to launch a military operation against Hamas in the Rafah area of the Gaza strip that is currently a refuge to nearly one and a half million Palestinians.

Borrell’s first attempt came during the Munich Security Conference over the weekend, then during a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday. According to the Jerusalem Post (JP), Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz had personally called Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó and asking him to block the statement. Szijjártó then reportedly called Katz back to inform him that Hungary had blocked the statement. Katz then updated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reported the JP.

If the EU had succeeded issuing such statement of consensus unanimously against Israel, this would have put Prime Minister Netanyahu under immense pressure, and could have handed the Hamas, and its backer Iran, a much needed propaganda weapon. On Monday Borrell told reporters that not all member states have supported the statement, without naming Hungary specifically, explained that he had received the support of 26 member states for the statement but did not name the member state that opposed it. He said that

I know that if there is not unanimity, then there is not an EU position. But there can be a position that is based on a big majority, and without being a formal EU position, it is nonetheless a majority position. And 26 out of 27 is indeed a majority position”.

Josep Borrell (R) with the Hungarian Foreign Minister. Photo: Facebook Péter Szijjártó

The international community is clearly worried about the well-being of Palestinian civilians who have been internally displaced due to the Israeli military operation that followed the 2022 October 7 terror attacks. Nevertheless, investing a lot of political capital, Hungarian diplomacy had decided to go it alone against the statement, reinforcing the Hungarian government’s position as one of Israel’s chief allies within the EU.

Earlier in February Hungary had blocked proposed EU sanctions on radical Israeli settlers using violence to take over Palestinian lands in the West Bank, but this proposal was also blocked by Israel’s other historic ally in Europe, the Czech Republic. Although if asked about the rationale behind their position on unequivocally supporting Israel, as in the past, the Hungarian government could simply reply that they take this position simply because it is the right thing to do. Yet in his communications Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has traditionally been particularly emphatic about distinguishing between matters of principle, and those of strategic interest. As far a the latter is concerned, the full scale of the Hungarian strategy towards supporting Israel against strong international headwinds remains to be revealed.

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Jerusalem Post; Featured Image: Facebook Israel Katz



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