Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the anti-mass migration Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) has called for Austria to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, echoing U.S. President Donald Trump.The FPÖ chief said it was “totally absurd” for the Austrian government to not recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate its embassy from its present location in Tel Aviv. Mr. Strache met with Israeli Deputy Yehuda Glick of the Likud party in Vienna to talk on the subject of “Islam and Islamisation”, Die Presse reports.
Strache passed on a letter addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu which said: “It is totally absurd not to move the Austrian Embassy into Jerusalem, as we do in other capital cities in other countries around the world, and the State of Israel has the right to build wherever it is necessary in the land of Israel.”
FPÖ deputy David Lasar said the passage regarding the right to build was addressed to settlers in West Jordan and the letter itself is meant as a “message of friendship for a future of good cooperation with the settlers and the Likud”.
Glick was invited to Vienna by Strache and the FPÖ as a “symbol for Jerusalem and the settlers” according to the Jerusalem Post.
The FPÖ has had a strained relationship with Israel in the past, with members of the Israeli government and the establishment. In 2000, when the party formed a coalition government under the leadership of Jörg Haider, Israel even went as far as to remove their ambassador until 2004.
More recently, the party has sought to make links in Israeli politics, particularly with those on the right like the ruling Likud party.
During the Austrian presidential campaign last year, famous Israeli Nazi hunter Rafi Eitan spoke at an FPÖ event endorsing the anti-mass migration views of then candidate Norbert Hofer.
The support from Eitan largely combatted the media narrative that attempted to connect Hofer to Nazism.
Other populist parties in Europe have also attempted to reach out and build better relations with Israel. Earlier this year Nicolas Bay, the secretary general of the French Front National, travelled to Israel to meet with prominent Israeli figures.
During the French presidential election, Israeli deputy and Likud party member Oren Hazan announced his full support for Marine Le Pen. Mr Hazan said: “A lot of other members of the House say in private that they support Marine Le Pen but are afraid to [say so publicly].”
“When I put my support in Marine Le Pen I looked at the State of Israel’s interests for safety, security, fighting radical Islam, and fighting terror,” he said.
Austria will hold an early national election on October 15th and the FPÖ look to enter government for the first time since 2005.