The EU warned Hungary against moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following media reports that such a move could happen as early as next month.
The foreign ministers of Israel and Hungary — Eli Cohen and Peter Szijjarto — reached a deal on the switch in recent days, according to Israeli daily Zman Yisrael, quoting officials in the Israeli foreign ministry.
Hungary’s foreign ministry refused to confirm or deny the Israeli media report. But a person familiar with the plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the move, confirmed that the switch will happen.
Such a move by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán would be a major diplomatic win for his Israeli counterpart and ally Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been facing criticism over his government’s controversial reforms to overhaul Israel’s judicial system.
Criticizing the reported plans, EU foreign policy spokesperson Peter Stano said that in the EU “there is a long-standing position which stems from the UN Security Council resolution 478 from 1980, which calls on all member states of the UN to withdraw embassies and diplomatic missions to Israel from Jerusalem.”
Hungary’s decision to move its diplomatic mission to Jerusalem would be a first for an EU member state, and run the risk of undermining the EU’s long-term goal of a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.
Orbán took a step in this direction in March 2019, when he relocated the trade department of the Hungarian mission to Israel to Jerusalem. “Hungary is leading right now to change the attitude in Europe toward Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said at the time, adding that “there’s a plot waiting for you right next to the American embassy.” That was a reference to former U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and open the U.S. embassy in the city in May 2018.