Netanyahu greets Hungary's Orban as 'true friend of Israel'

In Jerusalem Hungary’s PM declares ‘zero tolerance’ for anti-Semitism

Orban also met Israel's Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lauwho said Hungary was standing as a "bulwark" against the march of anti-semitism in Europe.

Orban made the comments following a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, claiming that negative remarks about the Israeli state are also a form of anti-Semitism.

The protesters had also chided Yad Vashem for hosting Orban. On Friday he is scheduled to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem before returning to Hungary.

Mr Orban, who described Mr Netanyahu and himself as "a Jewish patriot and a Hungarian patriot", lauded cooperation between the two nations.

During the trip, Orban said the European Union's ties with Israel were "not rational enough", criticizing its stipulation that closer ties would follow resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Hungary in December abstained when the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to reject the USA recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"We see eye-to-eye the challenges of the 21st century", Orban said as he echoed Netanyahu's common refrain on the threat of terrorism, though he did not mention names.

"[Prime Minister Orbán's] visit will promote the good bilateral relations as expressed, inter alia, by Hungary's support of Israel's position in European and global fora and by emphasizing the importance of the continued struggle against anti-Semitism", the ministry noted in an official statement. "It is deeply appreciated, and it is important".

In a break with protocol for European Union leaders who usually meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah during such visits, he has no scheduled talks with Palestinian leaders, Agence France-Presse reports. However his deputy Zsolt Semjen will visit Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, under Palestinian Authority control in the West Bank.

The Hungarian leader hosted Mr. Netanyahu in Budapest previous year, and was praised by his Israeli guest for being "at the forefront of the states that are opposed to... anti-Jewish policy", and expressed "the appreciation of my government and many people in Israel for this".

Orban also angered Jews both in and out of Hungary when he praised Miklos Horthy, who led the country following the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. Horthy was a Hitler ally who oversaw the murder of more than 500,000 Holocaust victims together with Nazi Germany.

The visit is part of Netanyahu's strategy to warm up the ties with the Visegrad Group, which includes Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, countries known for their nationalist stance that causes frequent frictions with the EU.

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