Austrian Chancellor: Israel's security is our interest

Sebastian Kurz stresses his country's commitment to Israel's security, explains why embassy relocation is not on the agenda at the moment.

Elad Benari ,

Sebastian Kurz at the Western Wall
Sebastian Kurz at the Western Wall
Avi Hayun/Foreign Ministry

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz stresses that the need for Israel's security is an "Austrian interest" and explains why Austria will not move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in the near future.

In an interview with Kan News which aired on Saturday, Kurz said, "Israel's security is an Austrian interest for us. I have always had excellent cooperation with the Jewish community in Austria. As Foreign Minister I worked to strengthen the cooperation with Israel, and now as Chancellor I have more opportunities do this.”

"Therefore, I am glad that we can allow the children of Holocaust victims to receive Austrian citizenship if they want it," he added.

The interviewer, Antonia Yamin, asked the Austrian Chancellor about the possible relocation of the Israeli embassy to Jerusalem and he replied that there was nothing new on the issue.

"We think that a solution must be reached at the negotiating table. I hope very much that it will happen sometime because I hope we find a solution through negotiations and achieve peace. If that succeeds, then naturally the relocation of the embassy is a small matter.”

Asked about his recent meeting in Vienna with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Kurz replied, "I used very clear words in my conversation with him. Israel's security is not negotiable for us, that is absolutely clear. Israel will always have full backing from Austria, and it was important to clarify that to the Iranian President.”

Kurz added that "we hope for a positive development in Iran. The development of nuclear bombs and anti-Semitic statements against Israel are unacceptable to us."

On the security of the Jewish community in Austria, he said, "We view the protection of Jewish life as a mission. We have a historical responsibility, and this is our duty as a republic."

The interview with Kurz as aired on Kan News

Israel decided to limit its contact with Austrian ministers who are members of the far-right Freedom Party, which is part of Kurz’s government. However, even as Israel’s Foreign Ministry limited its contact with the ministries headed by the Freedom Party to the professional staff, Netanyahu was expected to maintain direct contact with Kurz. The two have met several times.

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 last year.