Photo: Israeli Defence Forces (archive)

Hungary rejects inclusion of Israeli settlers on sanctions list, minister says

Hungary alone has withheld support for putting Israeli settlers on the EU sanctions list, Peter Szijjarto, the foreign minister, said after a meeting of the European Union Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday.
20. February 2024 6:24

Discussion of the issue had been “extremely tense”, Szijjarto told a press conference after the meeting, adding that no agreement was reached on imposing sanctions against Israeli settlers that had been advocated by several EU member states.

“At the start there were one or two … other countries that had similar position to ours. Their position slowly shifted,” he said, adding that in the end Hungary was the only one not to support the proposal.

The minister said adding settlers to the sanctions list would “only exacerbate tensions in a country that suffered a terrorist attack”. He said Israel’s counter-terrorist operation not only was in Israel’s interest but in that of the entire world.

He added that the measure would weaken Israel and heighten tensions in the West Bank, where fighting could spread.

“I think this must be prevented at all costs,” he said.

Szijjarto said at the same time that new sanctions should be mounted against Hamas.

“It had appeared that there was agreement on this, but several member states linked the two issues, which is completely unacceptable…” he said, adding that it was wrong and “anti-Israel” to pair Hamas and Israeli settlers together. Hamas, he said, should come under “the heaviest possible sanctions”, but it was unjustified to put settlers in the same category. Regarding the situation in Lebanon, the minister said preventing the spread of the conflict was of paramount importance, warning that failure to do so may lead to the whole of the Middle East being “engulfed in flames”, with a knock-on impact on European security.

“This is why I initiated … that the European Union should give the legitimate Lebanese government maximum support”, with the goal of preventing the war from spreading, Szijjarto said.

Hungary has provided 500,000 US dollars in aid to Egypt and the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem with the aim of protecting the civilian population.

“Of course, we urge that the hostages be released immediately,” he said, adding that this should happen without strings attached. “A realistic agreement must be reached, and I trust that the Qataris and the Egyptians will succeed here,” he said.


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