Orban to move Hungary's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem to 'appease Netanyahu'

Orban to move Hungary's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem to 'appease Netanyahu'
Most countries have kept their Israel embassies in Tel Aviv, despite a push by the US to move more diplomatic missions to the contested city of Jerusalem.
2 min read
03 March, 2023
Right-wing Hungarian leader Victor Orban is an ally of Netanyahu [Getty]

Hungary will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem next month, Israeli media has reported, in a break with international consensus on the status of the contested city.

Israel's Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto agreed on the move last week, Zman Yisrael said.

The move will happen next month and will be done as a "special gesture" by right-wing Hungarian premier Victor Orban to his long-time international ally Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, sources told the newspaper.

Hungary has said there has been no decision on the move yet but the country has already moved its trade mission to West Jerusalem.

Czechia has also opened a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem.

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If Budapest proceeds with the reported plans it would be the first EU country to base its embassy in Jerusalem, which most of the world has refused to do until a permanent peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians is agreed.

Orban made the decision to bolster Nehanyahu's position, following huge criticism both home and abroad over his far-right Israeli government's controversial plans for an overhaul of the judiciary, slammed as an attack on democracy by his critics. 

Former US President Donald Trump announced in 2018 plans to relocate the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sparking outrage in the Arab world.

Most foreign embassies in Israel are based in Tel Aviv, due to the contested status of Jerusalem the east of the occupied city which Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.

Since then other allies of Israel and the US have planned to move their embassies to Jerusalem, including most recently Papua New Guinea.

Israel has illegally occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank since 1967.