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Leader of far-right Austrian party with Nazi past to meet Israeli MP

Strache is a controversial character in Austria [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 February, 2018

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An Israeli parliamentarian will meet a far-right Austrian politician next week, from a party with a Nazi past.
An Israeli MP will meet the head of Austria's leading far-right party which was founded by former Nazis, despite warnings from his government not to attend.

Yehuda Glick is a member of the ruling right-wing Likud Party and will meet Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the Freedom Party "next week in Vienna", a spokesman said.

The meeting has courted controversy due to Strache being part of the far-right party, which was set up by former Nazi Austrians.
 
Glick will also meet Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl from the same party, which is part of a coalition with the ruling conservatives.

Although Israel is in contact with the new Austrian coalition government "for the moment", Tel Aviv has no direct contact with Freedom Party ministers due to the party's historic ties with Nazism.

Media reports suggest that Glick was given the green light by Israeli authorities.

The Freedom Party was founded in 1956 and became one of the leading far-right forces in Europe by the mid-1990s.

When the Freedom Party entered government in 2000, Israel broke ties and withdrew its ambassador. 

Strache has visited Israel several times including in 2016 when he met members of Netanyahu's government. He is said to support Israel's illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and also backs moving Austria's embassy to Jerusalem.

Like many in the Likud government, the Austrian minister is a strong critic of Islam and once called for a partial ban on the religion in Austria. Stache has said "Islam is not a part of Austria", while the party's propaganda frequently targets Muslims.

Members of the party have been known to engage in anti-Semitic and racist behaviour, with one councillor sacked for giving a Nazi salute. 

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