Hungarian President Katalin Novák has insisted that media reports suggesting Hungary will relocate its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem are premature and a decision on the matter has yet to be made.
The Times of Israel reported on Friday that Hungary will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city next month in what it claimed would be a special gesture by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, who was re-elected last November.
The newspaper reported that an agreement to relocate Hungary’s diplomatic center in Israel was reached last week, citing senior sources within Hungary’s foreign ministry.
However, Novák dismissed reports of an agreement during a news conference in Prague on Friday, telling reporters, “I also read the news in the press. In Hungary, a decision so far has not been made on moving our embassy to Israel.”
If the reports are accurate, Hungary would become the first EU member state to move its diplomatic mission to Jerusalem. EU’s foreign policy spokesperson has criticized Hungary for contravening the EU’s “long-standing position that stems from the U.N. Security Council resolution 478 from 1980, which calls on all member states of the U.N. to withdraw embassies and diplomatic missions to Israel from Jerusalem.”
Under the Trump presidency, the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem in 2018, a move that was shortly followed by Hungary moving the commercial trade department of its diplomatic mission to the city recognized by Israel as its capital in March 2019.
“This is a very exciting moment for us because it’s the first European diplomatic mission opened in Jerusalem in many decades, and three Hungarian diplomats are going to be assigned to this office for trade purposes,” Netanyahu said at the time. “And there’s a plot waiting for you right next to the American embassy,” he told Hungarian government officials.
The holy city of Jerusalem has been shrouded in controversy for decades amid a long-running dispute between Israel and Palestine. The latter regards East Jerusalem to be illegally occupied by Israel, a position acknowledged by the United Nations, which urges nations to refrain from formally recognizing the city as Israel’s capital until the dispute has been resolved.