First Published: 2018-02-13

Israeli MP urges lifting of ‘absurd’ boycott on Austrian FM
Glick meets Austrian FM during Vienna visit, calls him ‘true friend of Israel’ despite ‘prejudiced’ opinions of him by Jewish community.
Middle East Online

Glick said that he had stressed the importance of remembering the crimes of the Holocaust

VIENNA - An Israeli MP called his country's boycott of Austria's foreign minister "absurd" on Tuesday after meeting with the Austrian vice chancellor and head of a far-right party founded by former Nazis.

Yehuda Glick, of Israel's ruling right-wing Likud party, was speaking after a meeting with Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl during a visit to Vienna.

He said he also met Freedom Party of Austria (FPOe) chief Heinz-Christian Strache earlier in the day, despite objections from the local Jewish community.

The Freedom Party's entry into government in December prompted Israel to say it would not have direct contact with FPOe ministers, including Kneissl who was nominated by the party even though she is not herself a member.

Glick said the boycott had led to the "absurd situation" where the Austrian ambassador in Israel was able to freely meet ministers there while the foreign minister was boycotted.

"Many of the opinions about Mrs Kneissl herself and about the Freedom Party are prejudiced," Glick said, calling Kneissl "a true friend of Israel".

"I will do every effort I can to try to convince the Israeli foreign ministry of the importance of strengthening the relationship with all the parties in Austria," he said, while emphasising that he was not in Austria as an official representative of the Israeli government and did not want to meddle in Austrian politics.

Glick said that in his meeting with Strache he had stressed the importance of remembering the crimes of the Holocaust and stamping out racism and anti-Semitism, and that the FPOe had a special responsibility to distance itself from such ideas.

Strache promised that he would have a "direct channel" to raise concerns about any racist activity in the FPOe, Glick said.

Glick also thanked Strache for expressing his opinion that Austria should move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, while recognising that he was now bound by the official Austrian government line.

Asked about the FPOe politician Udo Landbauer, whose student fraternity was found to have published a songbook containing virulently anti-Semitic lyrics, Glick said he was "happy that this gentleman is not a candidate any more".

Landbauer resigned from the FPOe after the revelations, while maintaining he had not known of the songbook's existence.

Israel suspended relations with Austria when the FPOe first entered the government in 2000, eventually normalising relations again in 2003.

Strache, 48, has sought to soften the party's image and has visited Israel several times, the last time in April 2016 when he met members of Netanyahu's Likud.

 

Iran's Ahmadinejad calls for immediate free elections

Russia pours cold water on UN bid to condemn Iran over missiles to Yemen

Saudi Arabia to boost entertainment in next decade

Merkel calls for end to 'massacre' in Syria

Saudi Arabia to host first Arab Fashion Week

Palestinian dies after being shot by Israeli soldiers

Gulf states urge Syria to end Ghouta violence

Wanted Bahraini militants die at sea en route to Iran

Iraq urges FIFA to lift ban on hosting internationals

Carnage of Ghouta's bombs breaking families

Blockaded Gaza Strip forced to pump sewage into sea

African migrants start hunger strike over Israel expulsion

UN chief 'deeply alarmed' by Eastern Ghouta violence

Three militiamen killed in Libya car bomb attack

Russia denies ‘groundless’ accusations of role in Ghouta killings

Turkey says whoever helps YPG is 'legitimate target'

Morocco dismantles IS-linked terrorist cell

Turkey urged to end gas standoff with Cyprus

PKK attack near Iraq kills 2 Turkish soldiers

Netanyahu confidant to testify against him

Iran emergency teams recover bodies from plane crash site

Ten dead in more Syrian regime strikes on East Ghouta

Bahrain activist sentenced to 5 years for Yemen tweets

Lebanese president makes landmark visit to Iraq

US declares readiness to talk Mideast peace

Bloodbath in Syria's eastern Ghouta

Abbas calls for peace conference in rare UN speech

Egyptian court adds leading government critic on terror list

Yemen government offensive threatens heritage site

Turkey considering chemical castration for child abusers

45 civilians killed in air strikes on rebel enclave

Cairo sheds Ottoman-era street names amid Egypt-Turkey crisis

New woes for Israeli PM in fresh graft cases

Maghreb countries wary about jihadists relocating from Iraq, Syria

Erdogan says Turkey will besiege Afrin "swiftly"

Turkey releases leading pro-Kurdish politician

5 Iranian police killed in Sufi protests

Iran finds wreckage of crashed plane on top of mountain

Israel’s gas contract with Egypt: deal or no deal?

Somalia appoints new police, intelligence chiefs

Iran plane crash rescue search halted for second night

France reaffirms commitment to Iran nuclear deal

Turkey warns Syria against protecting Kurds

Abbas warms up to Moscow amid cold US-Palestinian ties

Israel strikes 'historic' gas contract with Egypt