Netanyahu congratulates Orban on reelection, invites him to Israel
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Netanyahu congratulates Orban on reelection, invites him to Israel

After landslide poll victory for Hungarian leader, PM thanks him for supporting Israel in international forums

On a four-day official visit in Hungary, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban walk during the reception ceremony in front of the Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary, July 18, 2017. (Balazs Mohai/MTI via AP)
On a four-day official visit in Hungary, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban walk during the reception ceremony in front of the Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary, July 18, 2017. (Balazs Mohai/MTI via AP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Hungary’s newly reelected leader Viktor Orban on Monday to congratulate him on his victory in Sunday’s general elections.

Netanyahu invited his Hungarian counterpart to visit Israel, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. A Channel 10 news report said Netanyahu was the first foreign leader to congratulate Orban.

The premier also thanked Orban for “Hungary’s support for Israel in international forums,” the statement continued.

In December, Hungary was one of 35 countries that abstained on a United Nations General assembly vote condemning US President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the United States’ embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Netanyahu met Orban during a four-day official visit to Hungary last July, and similarly praised Orban for his support for Israel.

“You’ve done that time and again,” Netanyahu said at the time. “We appreciate this stance, not only because it’s standing with Israel, but it’s also standing with the truth.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (L) hold a Rubik’s Cube at the Hungary-Israel Business Forum in Budapest, Hungary, on July 19, 2017. (Haim Zach/GPO/Flash90)

Budapest is at “the forefront of the states that are opposed to this anti-Jewish policy, and I welcome it,” the prime minister added.

Orban praised Netanyahu at the time as a “dedicated patriot,” adding that this is the key to his country’s success.

“There’s a lot for us to learn from Israel, ladies and gentlemen, because Israel teaches the world and us also that if you don’t fight for something, you will lose it,” he said. “Because nowadays, you have to fight for everything in the modern world.”

Orban was elected Sunday to his third consecutive term on a controversial anti-migrant platform, with his Fidesz party winning a super-majority.

Fidesz and its small ally, the Christian Democrat party, won a two-thirds majority, which is enough to make changes to the constitution.

Orban late Sunday celebrated what he called a “decisive victory.”

The far-right Jobbik party placed second with 26 seats, while a Socialist-led, left-wing coalition came in third with 20 seats.

Germany’s conservative interior minister welcomed Orban’s “very clear election victory” and warned the European Union against showing arrogance.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban greets his supporters in Budapest, Hungary, April 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Horst Seehofer said he would congratulate Orban on behalf of his Christian Social Union party. As Bavaria’s governor until last month, Seehofer sparred with Chancellor Angela Merkel over her migration policy and invited Orban to gatherings of his party.

German news agency dpa reported that Seehofer warned the EU against a “policy of arrogance and paternalism” and said bilateral ties with EU countries are always important even when there are differences.

However, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn slammed Orban’s anti-migrant stance and called on other European nations to reject it.

He was quoted Monday as telling German daily Die Welt: “Today it is Hungary and Poland, tomorrow others in eastern and central Europe, even a big founding country of the EU, could develop a taste for undermining values and scaremongering.”

He added that after the Hungarian election “it is up to Germany and France, along with all member states that aren’t counting on indifference, to weigh in unambiguously on the basis of the European treaties to neutralize this tumor of values.”

Raphael Ahren and AP contributed to this report.

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