Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wasted no time Monday evening (Oct. 16) in raising the issue of Iran during a phone call to Austria’s Chancellor-elect Sebastian Kurz.
Netanyahu congratulated Kurz on his election victory, and said Austria has done much in recent years to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, as well as in its fight against anti-Semitism.
But he also raised the issue of Iranian aggression, and invited Kurz to visit Israel.
The new Chancellor-elect thanked Netanyahu for his words, adding that he is interested in “developing the friendship and links” with Israel. He also said that he would be happy to visit Israel soon, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
European Union ministers congratulated Kurz on Monday, but some expressed concern over the possibility that the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) would enter the new government. The Freedom Party, which won some 26 percent of the vote in Sunday’s parliamentary vote to become the second-largest party in the country, has clashed with the EU in past years.
The European Jewish Congress (EJC) likewise “strongly urged” the chancellor-elect to “form a coalition of centrist parties and not be beholden to a party of the far-right in his new coalition government.”
EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor added in his statement, “Europe in general and Austria in particular should know all too well where acceptance of populist and pernicious ideologies leads.” Kantor warned against sacrificing democracy and human rights on the altar of “political expediency and short-term populism, which reminds us of far darker times within living memory.”