Likud officials defended their decision on Monday to invite to Israel a city council member from the controversial far-right Austrian Freedom Party, which was previously led by the late anti-Semitic politician Joerg Haider.
Channel 1 reported that the Foreign Ministry purposely has no contact with members of the party and was outraged by the decision. But, Likud officials said it was likely that the Freedom Party, currently led by Heinz-Christian Strache, would soon come to power in Austria and that building such ties was important.
"The Oslo [diplomatic] process started with [then deputy foreign minister] Yossi Beilin bypassing the Foreign Ministry, and then their policy changed," a Likud official said. "Strache could become the chancellor of Austria and then the Foreign Ministry will chase after him."