Hungarian mayor says Israel behind Paris attacks, then apologizes

(JTA) – A Hungarian mayor who accused Israel of being behind last month’s terror attacks in Paris apologized after his comments became public.

Gabor Huszar, mayor of the western Hungarian town of Szentgotthard, said during a committee meeting of his rightist Fidesz party, the ruling party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, ahead of a council meeting on Nov. 16, “What happened in Paris is clear evidence that certain business circles, dare I say business circles which are likely backed by the Jewish state, are trying to pit Christian Europe against the Muslims.”

A recording of his comments were broadcast Sunday on the Nyugat.hu news website.

Following the release of the recording, Huszar the next day apologized for what he called his “unfortunate wording,” and said in a statement posted on the municipal website that “it was not my aim to offend anyone, especially not people of Jewish religion. I apologize from those whom I offended. I am sorry for what happened.”

Fidesz spokesman Lajos Kosa said “the mayor’s statement was his private opinion and it has nothing to do with the Fidesz party’s position.”

At least 130 people were killed in simultaneous attacks on at least seven sites in Paris on Nov. 13. The Islamic State is believed to be behind the attacks.

The Israeli Embassy in Budapest condemned the comments in a statement, saying they “again prove that there are those who have not learned from history and continue to propagate negative views and conspiracy theories against the Jewish state, Israel. Such statements have led to the great tragedy of Jews in Hungary. Unfortunately, these false and laughable statements were by a public figure, Szentgotthard’s mayor.”

Hungarian opposition parties also condemned the statement. The leftist Hungarian Socialist Party called on Orban to recall the mayor from his post.

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