Austrian Chancellor to visit Israel

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announces June visit to Israel, where he will meet Holocaust survivors.

Ben Ariel ,

Sebastian Kurz
Sebastian Kurz

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced on Sunday that he will be visiting Israel in June, marking his first trip to the Jewish state since he entered in a coalition with the far right Freedom Party, i24news reported.

In a series of tweets, Kurz also said he will be meeting with Austrian Holocaust survivors in Israel as well as visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.

“Austria has a special historical responsibility never to forget the horrible crimes of the Holocaust and is committed to the security of Israel and its citizens,” he wrote.

“We actively support Jewish life in our country and fight against any form of anti-Semitism. Only if Jews can live unrestrictedly in peace, freedom and security, ‘never forget’ can also turn into ‘never again,’” the Chancellor added.

Israel decided to limit its contact with Austrian ministers who are members of the far-right Freedom Party shortly after it entered Kurz’s coalition.

The Freedom Party, which was partly founded by former Nazis, holds six posts, including the interior, defense and foreign ministries in the coalition government, after it garnered the third-highest vote total in the October elections.

Kurz has pledged to make "combating anti-Semitism in all its forms" a top priority.

"We will determinedly fight anti-Semitism in all its forms – those already existent but also imported into our country as an essential duty of our government," he said in a speech in December.

In January, Kurz marked International Holocaust Day by recalling his country's "historic responsibility" in the genocide of Jews during World War II, urging citizens not to forget "the sad and shameful days of March 1938," when Nazi troops marched in to a rapturous welcome.

In February, Netanyahu met with the Austrian Chancellor for the first time since Israel decided to limit its contact with Austrian ministers from the Freedom Party.

At the time, Netanyahu said that Kurz had discussed with him “all the steps they are taking against anti-Semitism and for the State of Israel. He told me that they intend to change the voting patterns of Austria at the UN and that he intends to support Israel's candidacy for the Security Council should we submit it.”