Photo: Israeli Defence Forces (archive)

Szijjarto: Escalation of Israel conflict ‘could take us extremely close to third world war’

The potential escalation of the conflict in Israel from an anti-terror operation to another interstate armed conflict "would take us extremely close to a third world war", Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in New York on Tuesday.
24. October 2023 21:15

Arriving at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Szijjarto said several of his European and North American counterparts would be present at the session given the level of concern over the conflict in Israel.

“It has to be made clear that Israel has been a victim of a brutal terrorist attack, because the act of firing thousands of missiles on the territory of a sovereign country, killing a large number of civilians and taking hostages cannot be interpreted any other way,” he said, according to a ministry statement.

And Israel has a right to take action over this brutal attack, he said, underlining that “Israel does indeed have a right to self-defence.”

Szijjarto added, at the same time, that most countries wanted to avoid that the fight against terrorism should escalate into an interstate war, which he said would be “a real global security tragedy”.

“A war in Ukraine, terrorist attacks in Africa and a potential escalation of a conflict in the Middle East to an interstate war combined would take us very, very close to something we’d call a third world war,” he said.

Szijjarto said he had spoken earlier with his Egyptian, Jordanian and Emirati counterparts, pointing out that these countries were all key to the stability of the Middle East region.

He highlighted the importance of the support of the Arab countries whose “reserved, constructive and positive approach” he said had played a crucial role in the region’s security and stability. Szijjarto said it was critical not to allow the terrorist attack against Israel destroy the progress and the hope for peace brought about by the Abraham Accords.

Meanwhile, Szijjarto praised Egypt’s help in keeping illegal migration at bay, saying that instability in the region would put Europe under “unbearable” pressure. Another reason why Egypt was a key player, he added, was that it was the only direction to leave the Gaza Strip by land.

An escalation of the fight against terrorism in Israel to an interstate war would destabilise several countries, and Europe could easily find itself under a level of security pressure that, when coupled with the security pressure from Ukraine, would be impossible to handle, the minister warned.

Meanwhile, Szijjarto said the ministry was in constant contact with the 15 Hungarian citizens trapped in Gaza. All of them are fine, and the government is working hard to find the physical, legal, and security possibilities for their evacuation, he said.

“This is only possible within the framework of a major international agreement and broad international cooperation,” Szijjarto said. “We’ll see when this will become possible,” he said, noting that Cairo had recently given the Hungarian nationals permission to enter Egypt’s territory, but they were ultimately turned back for security reasons.

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