Photo: Israeli Defence Forces (archive)

Szijjarto: Genocide charge against Israel ‘nonsense’

The genocide charge against Israel "is nonsense", the foreign minister said in Jerusalem on Wednesday, pledging Hungary's full support for the country in all forums where it is under attack for its counter-terrorist operations launched in response to the "hellish" October 7 attack.
17. January 2024 16:09

“Such accusations against a country that had to face such a hellish terrorist attack is clearly nonsense,” Peter Szijjarto said after talks with Israeli counterpart Israel Katz, adding that successful Israeli counter-terrorist operations were “in the interest of the entire world”.

Szijjarto said that whereas outsiders “from hundreds or thousands of kilometres away” may see Israel’s actions as a geopolitical issue or an armed conflict in need of a resolution, it was clear from close up that the conflict was made up of “thousands … of human tragedies”.

“So Hungary will stand up for Israel in all forums where it is attacked for its counter-terrorist operations,” he said.

Szijjarto called on the international community to support Israel’s manoeuvres to enable the region to return to “the path of the Abraham Accords”, which he said offered an opportunity to normalise the situation in the Middle East.

“One of the goals of the attacks against Israel was clearly to stop that normalisation procedure, and to further poison relations in the Middle East,” the minister said.

Further, the international community must work to avoid escalation, he said. Unless it gets the Islamist militant group Hezbollah to withdraw from the border between Israel and Lebanon, “the danger of escalation is dire”, he said.

Szijjarto said he had talked to his Lebanese counterpart, Abdallah Bou Habib, on several occasions, and Habib had also emphasised the importance of avoiding the conflict’s escalation.

Hungary’s foreign minister said the third big task before the international community was to ensure that the hostages taken by Hamas were freed.

Of the five Hungarian citizens taken by Hamas, three are now free, one remains in captivity and one has died, Szijjarto said. The government is doing everything in its power to free the last Hungarian hostage, too, and remains in contact with the Qatari authorities that play a key role in negotiations, he said.

Szijjarto said the tasks of the international community were to conclude a successful counter-terrorist operation and foster a return to normalisation. Hezbollah must to be turned back from the Israeli-Lebanese border and the hostages freed, Szijjarto said. “Hungary is doing everything it can,” he added.

The conflict also showed the importance of keeping channels of communications open, he said.

Szijjarto cautioned against allowing the conflict to escalate to the point of the outbreak of a third world war. Warning that Hungary was living in the shadow of a similar threat, he said: “If the war in Ukraine and the conflict in the Middle East escalate, only the good Lord can save the world from the consequences.”

Later on Wednesday, Szijjarto is scheduled to meet Energy Minister Eli Cohen and Ron Dermer, Israel’s minister of strategic affairs.

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