Hungary 'blocks joint EU statement' condemning US green light for Israeli settlements
Hungary has blocked efforts by the European Union to issue a joint statement on a decision by Washington to say it no longer considers Israel's settlements as illegal.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that treating the settlements as illegal "hasn't worked", the latest in a series of policy shifts that have delighted Israel's right-wing, particularly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Until now, US policy was based, at least in theory, on a legal opinion issued by the State Department in 1978, which said that establishing of settlements in the Palestinian territories went against international law.
Hungary Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó reportedly instructed his diplomats to block any text on the legal status of Israeli settlements, a diplomatic source told The Times of Israel, even if it avoided direct criticism of the US policy change.
Several member states, including France, Germany and Spain, have all issued their own condemnations, while EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini slammed the US move.
"The European Union's position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law," she said.
Hungary's government, headed by far-right leader Viktor Orban, in the past also blocked a joint EU statement condemning the Trump administration's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
In March, Hungary became the first European country to open a diplomatic office in Jerusalem, opening a trade office in West Jerusalem.
The EU's collective position is that Jerusalem's status must be negotiated by Israel and the Palestinians as part of a future peace agreement.
Hungary has in the past also criticised the EU's policy of labelling products made in Israeli settlements.