Hungary Blocks EU Condemnation of U.S. Shift on Mideast

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto. (Reuters/Adriano Machado/File Photo)

A dissent by Hungary prevented the European Union from issuing an explicit condemnation of the U.S. policy shift on the legality of the Israeli presence in Yehudah and Shomron announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday.

A diplomatic source told The Times of Israel that Hungary’s refusal to go along resulted in a general restatement of EU policy that Israel is in violation of international law by “occupying” the Palestinian territories, rather than a direct condemnation of the Pompeo speech, as had been proposed by other member states.

Thus, the statement issued by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini only reiterated that its position “remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.”

A new, more specific statement has not yet been circulated among the EU members, due to the fact that Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has indicated that his country would veto any statement on the settlements’ legality, even without direct reference to Pompeo’s speech.

Hungary has stood out in recent months as an ally of Israel. The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban also blocked a joint EU statement condemning the Trump administration’s recognition of Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital.

In March, Hungary became the first EU member state to open a diplomatic mission in the Israeli capital, counter to the bloc’s position that such missions preempt progress toward a Mideast peace agreement.

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