Knesset Invites Austrian Ambassador Despite Foreign Ministry Ban

YERUSHALAYIM -

A Knesset committee decided on Sunday to sidestep a veto imposed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry on an appearance by the Austrian ambassador, part of the government’s ban on the Austrian Freedom Party, Channel 10 reports.

MKs Amir Peretz (Zionist Camp) and Yehudah Glick objected to the refusal to allow Ambassador Martin Weiss to participate in a special session set for Monday at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on the subject of Israel’s boycott of Austria’s Freedom Party.

MKs Amir Peretz (Zionist Camp) and Yehudah Glick objected to the refusal to allow Ambassador Martin Weiss to participate in a special session set for Monday at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Peretz, who heads the Israel-Austria Parliamentary Friendship Committee, said that he had personally invited Weiss to attend the session, and turned to the committee director Shmuel Lekto to insist that there was no justification to prevent him from doing so.

Glick (Likud) called the ministry’s intervention “a disgrace…The Foreign Ministry refuses to allow the Austrian ambassador to participate in the Knesset debate on Israel’s relations with Austria,” according to Arutz Sheva.

He argued that the ministry’s action was tantamount to the silencing of public debate. “After this, they talk about boycotting Israel around the world,” he exclaimed.

Committee Chairman Avi Dichter (Likud) explained that in view of the fact that the session was an “open” one, anyone who is permitted entry to the Knesset premises can be invited by an MK to attend a committee session, notwithstanding the opposition of the Foreign Ministry.

Israel imposed a boycott on the far-right Freedom Party party due to its racist and anti-Semitic background. PM Netanyahu,who is also Israel’s foreign minister, ordered the ministry not to have formal meetings with the party ministers in the Austrian government.