Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén paid his respects to the memories of to Raoul Wallenberg and the Hungarian victims of the Holocaust at Israel's official memorial to the Holocaust on Friday.

The Deputy Prime Minister laid a wreath in the name of the Hungarian Government at the Yad Vashem memorial, where he also viewed documentation on former Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. The gesture marked the end of Deputy Prime Minister Semjén's official visit to the Middle East.

In addition to developments in world politics, the spiritual background of the Holy Land is also of great importance, said the Deputy Prime Minister in a telephone interview, adding that his meetings with religious leaders in both Israel and Palestinian Authority territory reflected this significance.

"Historically, there have been direct links between Hungary and the Holy Land since the time of St. Stephen… Many Hungarian pilgrims still arrive each year, and this is also a reason why relations should be in order and Hungarians may receive a warm welcome everywhere", the Deputy Prime Minister told Hungarian news agency MTI.

On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Semjén was received by Palestinian Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church Fouad Twal, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem Theophilos III, and the recently elected 97th Armenian Apostolic Patriarch of Jerusalem Nurhan Manougian.

During his meeting with Yona Metzger, Deputy Prime Minister Semjén invited the Chief Rabbi of Israel to visit Hungary, "which the Chief Rabbi gladly accepted".

In Bethlehem, the Deputy Prime Minister held talks with Ziad Al-Bandak, Advisor on Christian Affairs to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also Ministerial Commissioner for the renovation of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Hungary was the first to contribute to the renovation of the temple complex, with construction beginning after other countries had also joined the project. "After one-thousand five-hundred years, it's time for some repairs, and this is the subject of our discussions. We would like to enable Hungarian craftsmen to take par tin the renovation work", the Deputy Prime Minister said.

While in Bethlehem, Deputy Prime Minister Semjén also presented awards to the Honorary Consul to Bethlehem Dr. Nassar Khamis, who played an important role in developing Hungarian-Palestinian relations and completed his university studies in Hungary decades ago, to Hania Souda Sabbara, the Conductor and Director of the Magnificat Choir in Jerusalem, which maintains close relations with the Saint Angela Choir in Budapest, and to the Franciscan priest Armando Pierucci, founder and current chairman of the institute.

With relation to Hungarian-Palestinian relations, the Deputy Prime Minister acknowledged twinning of Bethlehem with the Hungarian city of Kalocsa, the gifts from Kalocsa that are offered to charity during Bethlehem's Christmas Fair, and the joint charity drives that the two settlements regularly organise.

Speaking to MTI, Deputy Prime Minister Semjén declared Hungary's pursuit of balance between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. "Perhaps the word balance best describes the Hungary's political standpoint that we also represent within the European Union. In our opinion, Palestine has the right to its own state, while Israel has the right to full security. The parties must reach a consensus through negotiations, to which Hungary shall provide assistance to the best of its abilities", he sated.