Earlier this year, several European Union countries believed that it was highly time to convene the EU-Israel Association Council, a body created in the framework of the 2000 EU-Israel Association Agreement to exchange views and to discuss bilateral cooperation but that didn’t’ gather since 2012 because of disagreements on the peace process with the Palestinians and in particular Israel’s settlement policy.
During a visit to Jerusalem, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius insisted that the EU and Israel ‘’need to talk.’’ ‘’I would like to see this dialogue happen, with the understanding that there could be some disagreements. A lot of issues should be discussed – be it settlements, be it the Iranian issue, or whatever,’’ he added.
Later, when she met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the sidelines of a conference in Munich, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini agreed to convene such a high-level EU-Israel meeting ‘’at the earliest possible opportunity.’’
But while preparations were ongoing, the EU decided to postpone the meeting at the request of some member states. Since then, no news from the EU except to say that ‘’we have nothing to announce.’’
Generally, the EU-Israel Association Council is held at the level of Foreign Minister.
However, this week, the Israeli media reported that the Benjamin Netanyahu premier will visit the EU headquarters in Brussels next month, the first Israeli premier to do so in 22 years !
He is expected to meet with the EU’s 28 Foreign Ministers at an informal breakfast prior to their monthly meeting on an invitation by Lithuania.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon described the planned visit as ‘’extremely important’’ because, he said, ‘’ it is a unique occasion to meet 28 foreign ministers as well as the important actors of the EU in Brussels.’’
Netanyahu, who is also Foreign Minister, will be able to “present Israel’s position with regard to the strategic challenges and issues that we face in the region,” he added.
“It is a unique occasion to strengthen and enhance the ties between Israel and the EU. I think that it is going to be one of the more important diplomatic rendez-vouses for Israel,” he said.
Will Netanyahu’s visit open a new chapter in Israel’s sometimes tense relations with Israel, a country which is after all the one and only democracy in the region ? The EU has a lot to learn from Israel and shares with this country a lot of values....Revitalising the EU-Israel ties will certainly benefit the diplomatic peace process with the Palestinians and the growing rapprochement with the Sunni Arab States...