Austrian chancellor stresses Israel’s security during joint appearance with Iranian president


(JTA) — Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called it “absolutely unacceptable” to question Israel’s right to exist or call for its destruction in a joint appearance with Iran’s president.

Speaking Wednesday in front of reporters, Kurz also condemned Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism before he and President Hassan Rouhani went into a private meeting in Vienna.

“The concerns of Israel have to be taken seriously,” Kurz said. “Austria is unconditionally committed to the security of Israel and its citizens.

“During this memorial year, we are particularly aware of our historic responsibility. We strongly condemn all forms of anti-Semitism as well as any form of downplaying or denial of the Holocaust.”

Kurz, whose junior coalition partner is the far-right Freedom Party, which was established by former Nazis in the 1940s and has anti-Semitic roots, traveled to Israel in June, where he made an official visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and a private visit to the Western Wall. Israel boycotts the Freedom Party.

Kurz tweeted in English after his meeting with Rouhani that he stressed to the Iranian president that Israel’s security is “non-negotiable for us” and that “questioning Israel’s right to exist or downplaying the Holocaust is absolutely unacceptable.”

The president of the Jewish community in Vienna criticized Kurz and the country’s president, Alexander Van der Bellen, for the honor guard that greeted Rouhani when he arrived in Austria on Wednesday, The Jerusalem Post reported.

“No agreement, neither an oil business nor an atomic deal, is more important than human life,” Oskar Deutsch said in a statement also posted on social media. “Decades of diplomatic mediation attempts have not led Tehran to relinquish its terrorist support, and the threat of annihilation against Israel has even increased, and then a top representative of this hatred regime will be received in the city from which an assassination of opposition forces in Europe is planned.”

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