Hungary Refuses To Pile On to Europe’s Anti-Israel Bandwagon 

In a rebuke of some of the White House’s recent Middle East missteps, Budapest stands up to the progressivist faction that favors Hamas.

Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP
The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, at Budapest, May 4, 2023. Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP

With even Prince William and rather less gently the British parliament turning up the volume of the global din over Gaza, the European Union has this week leveled an almost collective swing at Israel. Almost, because what most EU foreign ministers see as a principled stance by calling on Israel to abort an anticipated attack on Hamas holdouts at Rafah, Hungary alone sees as a misguided move at best. 

The Hungarian foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, telegraphed Hungary’s defiance of the Eurogang by abstaining from a joint declaration that stated in part, “an immediate humanitarian pause that would lead to a lasting ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and the provision of humanitarian assistance.” That statement was issued on Monday in the name of “Foreign Ministers of 26 Member-States of the European Union.” 

Israel accuses Hamas of hiding among Palestinian Arab civilians, something the terrorist group denies despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary.  The EU diplomats fail to acknowledge the extraordinary measures that the IDF takes, at considerable risk to its own troops, to avoid civilian casualties. 

Thus the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said ahead of the joint declaration: “We have to continue putting pressure on Israel to make them understand that there are so many people in the streets of Rafah, it will be impossible to avoid civilian casualties.” Not for the first time, Budapest stood apart, marking that in order for the declaration to be politically binding, it would have required a 27-country consensus.

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has long been an outlier when it comes to European financial support for Ukraine, though in recent months he has relented on that somewhat. With Budapest’s staunch support for Israel as it wrestles with security challenges south of Jerusalem and also north and east of it, some of Mr. Orbán’s international modi operandi are becoming clearer. To wit, he is no waffler when it comes to standing by his friends, one of whom is Prime Minister Netanyahu. 

Ahead of the joint declaration, the Jerusalem Post first reported, Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, called Mr. Szijjártó while he was attending the Munich Security Conference to seek his support. Earlier this month, Hungary along with the Czech Republic blocked proposed EU sanctions on a dozen Israeli citizens. 

President Biden has apparently not yet gotten the memo on that — or if he has, maybe he doesn’t care to read it. On Wednesday the Times of Israel reported that the Biden administration “is readying to issue a second round of sanctions in the coming weeks against Israeli settlers” who allegedly carried out violent acts in Judea and Samaria. 

Hungary, it is worth noting, was among the 14 countries that voted in the UN’s General Assembly against an immediate cease-fire. It objected that the resolution failed to stipulate with adequate clarity the immediate release of Israeli hostages. Mr. Orbán, meanwhile, has banned pro-Palestinian marches in Hungary, stating these would be “sympathetic to terrorists.”

Budapest has in effect raised the uncomfortable question: Who in the ranks of European (and British) officialdom is more or less sympathetic to terrorists? The Irish foreign minister, Micheal Martin, called a possible ground assault against the remaining Hamas battalions at Rafah “unconscionable.” A similar description emanating from Dublin regarding the massacres of Israeli citizens Hamas terrorists committed on October 7 is more elusive.

On Wednesday, the Scottish National Party called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza, which set off a row because of an amendment put forward by the Labor party. Earlier, Prime Minister Sunak said that it was “not in anyone’s interest” to call for a cease-fire absent a working plan for what would ostensibly come after one. Prior to that, though, Prince William caused a stir when he said, “I, like so many others, want to see an end to the fighting as soon as possible.”

In British royalty-speak, that adds up to almost a tirade from a future king whose forebears were anointed with holy oil from Jerusalem. The sturm und drang, from London to Berlin to Brussels, is pointless. Budapest gets it. Incidentally, El Al is offering free tickets to IDF soldiers who have served 30 days or more in active service since October 7. Budapest is included on a list of 10  eligible destinations for the fighters. London and Brussels are not.

The New York Sun

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