Members of the Knesset and of the European Parliament have expressed the need to convene a meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council.
Following the remote 44th Inter-Parliamentary Meeting (IPM) between the European Parliament and the Knesset, the two sides issued a statement regretting that the EU-Israel Association Council has not met since 2012, calling on both sides ‘’to redouble efforts to find as soon as possible a mutually convenient date.’’
‘’They underlined that the EU-Israel Association Council remains the key forum which allows for a high-level dialogue on the issues of mutual interest. A rapid convening of the Association Council is of utmost importance for the development of the relationship between the European and Israeli partners,’’ the statement said.
The meeting was co-chaired by Antonio López-Istúriz White, Chairman of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Israel and by MK Uzi Dayan who heads the Knesset delegation for relations with the European Parliament.
“I express my satisfaction with the important meeting involving an open and in-depth debate on issues of mutual interest for both the EU and Israel. The fact that the meeting was organised soon after the establishment of the Knesset Delegation for relations with the European Parliament, following the elections in Israel, is proof of the enthusiasm and desire for strengthened cooperation on both sides,’’ said López-Istúriz White.
He said that during the discussion, ‘’we underlined that the values of democracy and the respect for human rights are at the centre of the EU-Israel partnership and highlighted the need to strengthen our efforts for their implementation.’’
Topics discussed included the normalization agreements and the Middle East Peace Process, security and fighting antisemitism and EU-Israel cooperation.
Both sides stressed that the normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE, Bahrein and Sudan, constitutes “a welcomed development for the signatory countries as well as for the stability and security in the region.””
“”On the background of these agreements, Israelis and Palestinians should seize the opportunity and take urgent steps to build confidence and restore cooperation in full respect of international law,,’’ they said.
The EU delegation reaffirmed the EU’s position ‘’of firm commitment to a negotiated and viable two-state solution built upon the internationally agreed parameters.’’ The, it said, ‘’is ready to support Israelis and Palestinians in their efforts to resume meaningful negotiations on all final status issues in order to achieve a just and lasting peace.’’
López-Istúriz White also welcomed the successful dialogue between the EU and Israel on counter-terrorism as well as the fruitful cooperation in fighting anti-Semitism.
‘’On this regard, we will continue working together in order to protect Jewish communities and institutions as well as the Jewish cultural heritage throughout Europe,’’ he said.
Discussing the regional security situation, the Knesset delegation recalled their concerns regarding the Iranian regime’s nuclear ambitions, including the ballistic missiles program and the use of proxy organisations in order to perpetrate acts of aggression against Israel. ‘’The European Parliament delegation reiterated the EU commitment to Israel’s security, which is non-negotiable.’’
‘’The EU is committed to Israel’s security, including threats in the region, which is best guaranteed through peace agreements between Israel and its neighbours,’’ said López-Istúriz White.
Both sides also discussed and agreed to strengthen the strong cooperation existing in the sectors of research, science, technology, and education. On trade, noting that the EU is Israel´s first trading partner, they agreed on the need to boost investment by reducing non-tariff barriers and pursuing technical cooperation.
Solidarity in the context of fighting COVID-19 was also underlined as well as the necessity of better communication about the cooperation of the European Union and Israel.