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REPORT: Hungary Calls on EU to Cease Funding NGOs Hostile to Israel

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (L) shake hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ( R ) on during joint statements at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, Israel, July 19, 2018. - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban advocated 'zero tolerance' against anti-Semitism, at the start of his controversial visit …
DEBBIE HILL/AFP/Getty

Hungary’s foreign minister is believed to have called on the European Union to cease financially supporting non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that oppose Israel or that facilitate illegal migration.

Sources told Euractiv that Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó raised the issue at a meeting of his counterparts in Luxembourg on Monday.

The suggestion was rejected by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini who said that the bloc had stringent checks are in the place for the NGOs it supports and that such support will continue, according to the source.

Mr Szijjártó was reportedly to have targetted charities supporting anti-Israel boycott and divestment (BDS) campaigns, and asked for the bloc to ensure that NGOs “that engage in incitement to violence and hatred or engage in boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel” as well as those that “contribut[e] to illegal migration” via the Mediterranean Sea do not receive EU funding.

In May, Israel likewise called on the EU to stop funding BDS groups, which they said work to delegitimise and destroy the Jewish state.

Israel said that some of the NGOs that had received funding from the bloc in 2016 have links to Palestinian terror groups, naming specifically Norwegian People’s Aid, British group War on Want, the Dutch anti-war group PAX, and Palestinian organisation PNGO Net.

Hungary, like Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, has been described as “very pro-Israel”, and the country’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is said to enjoy a warm relationship with the Jewish state’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Meeting during a historic trip in Hungary in July 2017 — the first time since the fall of Communism in 1989 that an Israeli premier went to the central European nation — Mr Netanyahu said that Hungary was at the “forefront” on the war against anti-Semitism, thanking Hungary for “standing up for Israel time and again”.

The visit came at a time when Hungary was under attack from senior EU officials such as European Commission First Vice-president Frans Timmermans, who labelled the government “anti-Semitic” for criticising open-borders Hungarian-American activist George Soros, who is of Jewish heritage.

Israel’s foreign office released a statement in defence of Hungary, saying it was important not to “delegitimise criticism of George Soros who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organisations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself”.

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