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EU’s Varhelyi meets with Netanyahu amid ICC prosecutor’s arrest warrant requests

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European Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi met on Wednesday (29 May) with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, amid requests by the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor for arrest warrants against them over alleged war crimes.

“Honoured to meet Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss pressing issues in our bilateral relations, the war with Hamas, humanitarian assistance for the people in Gaza and strategic challenge for the region from Iran”, Varhelyi said on social media platform X.

Asked whether European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had approved the meeting, a spokesperson said commissioners do not require prior approval for such a meeting.

“The president trusts that he is conveying the EU position on all bilateral and regional issues to his interlocutors”, the spokesperson added.

Varhelyi’s cabinet did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment by publication of this article.

The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor said on 20 May he had requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his defence chief and three Hamas leaders over alleged war crimes.

Olivér Várhelyi is a Hungarian lawyer and diplomat, and European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement from Hungary in the von der Leyen Commission. His portfolio includes EU relations with Israel, the legal base for which is the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

EU-Israel relations are underpinned by the 2005 Action Plan under the European Neighbourhood Policy. The Action Plan aims to gradually integrate Israel into European policies and programmes and also established 10 sub-committees that meet regularly to discuss priorities and exchange views.

(Edited by Georgi Gotev)

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