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Thursday, 3 February, 2000, 17:18 GMT
Analysis: Israel's hard line against Haider

By Richard Miron in Jerusalem

Israel will be watching Austria carefully as the far-right Freedom Party joins a coalition government despite international warnings.

Israel had threatened to isolate Vienna politically if the party was allowed a share in power, and now it looks as though the government will have little choice.

Mr Barak says he will recall Israel's ambassador to Vienna
It is not the first time there has been tension between the two countries. Israel has criticised Austria in the past for not coming to terms with its role in the World War Two.

In 1986 Jerusalem withdrew its ambassador to Vienna when Kurt Waldheim, alleged to have been involved in Nazi persecution during the war, was elected as the country's president.

Many Israelis feel the public support for the Freedom Party confirms that Austria has not come to terms with its Nazi past. And the Jewish State founded in the wake of the Holocaust believes it should lead the battle against right-wing radicalism in Europe.

Israel is heading the international campaign against Joerg Haider's Freedom Party, with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak announcing he would recall his country's ambassador to Vienna, Nathan Meron.

"We here in Israel, and I believe the whole of the Jewish people, will never be able to accept a kind of no-response or not tough enough response to the emergence of neo-Nazi figures and parties into the leadership of Western Europe," Mr Barak said.

Israel also said it would refuse to issue a visa to Joerg Haider if he decided to visit the country.

Israel makes a stand

Israel's hard line has won broad public support in the country, which was established just three years after the end of World War Two.

Two members of Israel's parliament, from opposing right and left-wing parties, presented a petition signed by 30 Israeli legislators objecting to the inclusion of the Freedom Party in the Austrian government, to the Austrian embassy in Tel Aviv.

Joerg Haider's Freedom Party is seen as a threat by many Israelis
And young Israelis, some holding placards of the Austrian flag with a swastika drawn on it, alongside the word 'shame' demonstrated outside the embassy building.

The media also campaigned against the move to allow the Freedom Party into government.

One article, in Israel's highest circulation newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, said Israel and the European governments "must not slacken until Haider goes home".

The newspapers are urging Israeli tourists to not to travel to Austria and for importers of Austrian goods to seek other sources.

But Austria's Freedom Party is democratically elected and growing in popularity. There seems little that Israel can do about that.

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See also:
03 Feb 00 |  Europe
Austrian far-right awaits approval
03 Feb 00 |  Europe
In pictures: Anti-coalition demos
02 Feb 00 |  Europe
Joerg Haider: Key quotes
03 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Labour MEPs warn Haider
03 Oct 99 |  Europe
Profile: Joerg Haider
02 Feb 00 |  Media reports
Europe's press differs over Haider
31 Jan 00 |  Europe
Haider's Austrian charm offensive

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