Hungary's attempt to go against the European Union (EU) consensus over the legal status of occupied Jerusalem raises many questions about the implications of the divergent views among a number of EU member states towards the Palestinian issue.
Hungary announced yesterday its decision to open a trade office in Jerusalem with diplomatic status، a matter that violates the EU member states commitment not to transfer their embassies to Jerusalem، and to find a Just solution to The Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
In fact، Hungary's position was not surprising، as the decision is made by a member of " Visegrad group"، which also includes Poland، Czech Republic and Slovakia، countries that oppose many of the EU's foreign policy structural components، foremost of which is the Union attitude towards the Palestinian issue، a matter which is well exploited by Israel.
Although، Israel failed to host these countries leaders last month، as a historic event which indicates the possible success of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy to form a lobby within the European Union، following the crisis raised by his statements against Poland، yet Netanyahu held individual talks with his Hungarian، Czech، and Slovakian counterparts as an alternative to holding “Visegrad Group” Summit in the occupied city of Jerusalem.
Following the meeting between Netanyahu and Hungarian Prime Minister، Victor Orban، held on February 19، the latter announced that Hungary will open a trade office with diplomatic status in the occupied city of Jerusalem، while Slovakia decided to open an innovation and cultural center.
The step announced by Hungary is likely to come into force soon، as Hungary announced، yesterday، that a trade office will be opened in Jerusalem after two weeks، on March 19، adding that Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó، will take part in the opening ceremony، thus Hungary becomes the first European state to take practical steps towards the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel، moreover، it seems to be considering moving its embassy there.
In contrary، this step will probably not mean much، putting into consideration the EU position announced yesterday towards such individual steps، as the Palestinian foreign ministry welcomed EU spokesman in Jerusalem، Shadi Othman remarks، in which he assured that the EU considers Jerusalem as an occupied territory.
"The State of Palestine wishes to express its gratitude to this European stance which goes in line with international resolutions and contributes to stability and peace in the region،" the Palestinian foreign ministry said in an official statement issued yesterday.
The policies adopted by The Hungarian government have outraged the EU، a matter which reflected through a report by "Agence France-presse" (AFP) yesterday، confirming that many disputes have aroused between Orban and EU concerning many files including; his position towards immigration، and refugees issue، thus The file of Palestinian-Israeli conflict could be added to such disputes.
The Hungarian move came one day after the United States (US) announced the merger of the Consulate General and the US Embassy in occupied Jerusalem into one diplomatic entity and the closure of its Jerusalem Consulate General. Thus، U.S Ambassador to Israel David Friedman، a longtime supporter of Israel's West Bank settler movement، will oversee the consular services provided to the Palestinians.
A few countries have responded to Israeli calls to move their embassies or any of its institutions to Jerusalem، or announced their intention to undertake future steps on the ground. Hungary was preceded by Honduras، Brazil، Paraguay، Australia، the Czech Republic and Romania. Yet The US is the only state that has taken a fundamental step، moreover، it leads a process of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel، through overt steps and probably behind-the-scenes negotiations.
However، there is no evidence so far that Israel's "policy of begging" with the world’s countries achieves tangible results، as The EU، Arab and Islamic countries stand against these steps، a matter which obviously reflected when Brazil and Australia announced their intention to move their embassies to Jerusalem، and faced by immediate Arab and Islamic opposition، prompted them to review the decision.
Indeed، the previous experiences have indicated that Israel adopts a long-term strategy and may rely on urging the largest number of friendly countries leaders to move their embassies to occupied Jerusalem، even if it takes decades. Especially after achieving the most significant step when Trump administration decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocated the US Embassy to the city from Tel Aviv، in the middle of 2018.