Hungary blocking joint EU statement condemning US settlement policy change

An effort to get all 28 European Union member states to issue a joint statement condemning the US decision to no longer consider Israeli settlements as illegal is being blocked by Hungary, a diplomatic source with direct knowledge of the matter tells The Times of Israel.

The bloc’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, issued a statement yesterday that did not directly refer to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement on the matter, but reiterated that the union’s 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.”

No text has yet been circulated among member states, as Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó makes it plain that his country would veto any statement on the settlement’s legality, even if it did not directly refer to Pompeo’s speech.

Budapest has been at loggerheads with Brussels over the Middle East peace process several times in recent months. The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban also blocked a joint EU statement condemning the US administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In March, Hungary became the first EU member state to open a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, much to the chagrin of other member states which cling to the position that international law prohibits opening such missions in the city in the absence of a comprehensive peace deal.

— Raphael Ahren

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