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Hungary opens first diplomatic trade office in Jerusalem

March 20, 2019 4:14 P.M. (Updated: March 22, 2019 4:49 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto opened a trade office in Jerusalem City, in the central occupied West Bank, that will have an official “diplomatic status,” on Tuesday.

The new diplomatic trade office is considered a “branch” of the Central European country’s embassy in Israel, which will remain in Tel Aviv.

During the opening ceremony, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said “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.”

In his speech, Netanyahu also mentioned United States President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018.

Netanyahu told Szijjarto that “there’s a plot waiting for you right next to the American embassy.”

Szijjarto said, “We have always fought for a fair and balanced approach on behalf of the international community towards Israel” and reiterated Hungary’s opposition to the European Union’s decision to clearly label products from Israeli settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.

He said, “I have to underline here once again that we reject to combine restrictive economic and commercial measures with political issues,” adding “We will not apply the decision of the European Commission on labeling. We do not support the list of companies in the settlements to be announced by the high representative of Human Rights of the United Nations.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Emmanuel Nahshon, said several Western European countries have consulates in Jerusalem that serve primarily, however not only, Palestinians, noting "They are considered consular missions that fulfill a 'totally different' objective than embassies or trade offices."
Nahshon also explained “This is pure diplomacy. This is part of the embassy and they’re going to be dealing with issues that go way beyond mere consular issues.”

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