Hungary and Israel Strengthen Ties Amid Western Scrutiny

The two countries are cozying up while Washington and Brussels issue critiques.

What’s happening: Hungary and Israel have become aligned amidst criticism from the U.S. and the European Union. Their newly strengthened alliance is unique: on the surface, there is nothing to unite the two countries, as they share no borders and have very different histories.

  • Mutual benefits: Hungary recently vetoed an EU resolution requesting that Israel not attack the Hamas stronghold of Rafah. And last year, Israel refused to sign onto a U.S.-backed initiative rebuking Hungary for its pro-traditional family legislation.

Why it matters: By coming to each other’s aid, Hungary and Israel are helping one another break what would be near-unanimous Western criticism.

Similar national priorities: Bryan E. Leib, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Fundamental Rights, told Upward News he believed Hungary and Israel would continue to grow closer “because the countries have built a strong foundation based on mutual respect for their shared values about protecting their respective borders, their families and their religious faiths."

Similarly criticized: Both countries were rebuked by Brussels and Washington over their attempts to rein in left-wing, activist judiciaries.

  • Internal interference: America has also intervened heavily in both nations’ politics. The Obama administration aided left-wing parties in Israel’s 2015 elections in an attempt to remove Benjamin Netanyahu, and Joe Biden recently sent a representative to “strengthen democratic institutions” in Hungary — essentially code for strengthening anti-Orbán groups.

What’s next: The hectoring from Brussels and Washington may soon end:

  • In Europe: June’s European Parliament elections could result in a Hungary-friendly right-wing majority.

  • In America: If Donald Trump wins in November, American relations with Israel and Hungary will likely strengthen. Hungary has worked to cultivate strong ties to the America First movement, and Viktor Orbán maintains a close relationship with Trump.