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Bucking EU position, Hungary expresses support for Trump peace plan

After meeting Kushner, FM Peter Szijjarto says efforts to resolve conflict need ‘new impetus,’ and US offer ‘is suitable for creating peace and stability in the region’

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto in his office in Budapest, Hungary, June 14, 2019. (Attila Kovacs/MTI via AP)
Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto in his office in Budapest, Hungary, June 14, 2019. (Attila Kovacs/MTI via AP)

Bucking the European Union’s opposition to the US administration’s peace plan, Hungary on Wednesday came out in support of the proposal, saying it was “suitable for creating peace” between Israel and the Palestinians.

The so-called Deal of the Century corresponds to three “fundamental principles” of Budapest’s position on the Middle East peace process, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said after meeting one of the plan’s co-authors, Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to US President Donald Trump. These principles are: adopting a “fair and balanced approach” toward Israel, achieving a two-state solution via direct negotiations and fighting terrorism, he said.

“New impetus is required within the field of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to enable the Middle Eastern peace process to gain renewed strength. This is also extremely important from the perspective of European security,” he said after the meeting, which took place at the White House.

“Something new” was needed to allow any kind of peace process “to become realistic,” he added.

The US peace plan, which was unveiled last week in Washington, “is suitable for creating peace and stability in the region in the long term,” Szijjarto said.

The Hungarian top diplomat further said that his country opposes any kind of sanctions against Israel or Israeli businesses. Budapest also rejects to the EU assuming “an anti-Israeli position in the United Nations.”

A staunch ally of Israel and the United States, the government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has a history of vetoing EU statements criticizing American and Israeli policies. For instance, Budapest has prevented Brussels from issuing statements in the name of all member states condemning Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or the administration’s November 18 announcement about the legality of West Bank settlements.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell answers a question during a news conference in Brussels, January 7, 2020 (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Earlier this week, Hungary was among a handful of countries that blocked a joint EU statement rejecting the Trump proposal and warning Israel against annexing areas of the West Bank the plan says will be under Israeli sovereignty.

Since any statement issued in the name of all member states needs unanimity, it was blocked.

The union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell then took the vetoed draft and issued it in his own name. His statement, released Tuesday, said that any Israeli step toward annexation “could not pass unchallenged.”

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said Borrell’s statement was odd and regrettable and denounced its ostensible use of “threatening language towards Israel.”

“Pursuing such policies and conduct is the best way to ensure that the EU’s role in any process will be minimized,” ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said in a statement.

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