Diplomats say Hungary, Poland blocked stronger EU response to Ben Gvir incident

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir tours Lod, April 17, 2023. (Flash90)
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir tours Lod, April 17, 2023. (Flash90)

EU diplomats who were present at the ambassadors meeting this morning in which they decided to cancel the Europe Day reception over the attendance of Itamar Ben Gvir tell The Times of Israel additional details about the debate that took place.

The original motion would have seen all the ambassadors issue a harsh joint statement expressing disappointment over Israel’s decision to send the far-right national security minister. It also would have specifically called on the government to designate someone else, or the party would be canceled.

Hungary and Poland blocked the joint statement, saying that they cannot be seen as questioning a sovereign decision of the Israeli government.

The “usual suspects’’ at the meeting were spoiling for a confrontation with Israel, says one of the diplomats present. Some countries saw Ben Gvir as an intentional snub of Europe by Israel.

The talk moved to the event itself at that point. With demonstrations expected, there was talk of canceling it for security reasons as well as diplomatic.
A consensus began to form around canceling, but it was not clear how to communicate the message.

EU envoy to Israel Dmiter Tzantchev said initially that a statement would come from Brussels, but in the end decided to issue a statement himself as host.

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