Friday, 2 Dec 2022 - 8 of Kislev, 5783
EU

EU Foreign Ministers agree to resume meeting of EU-Israel Association Council after 10-year hiatus

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No date has been set yet as the 27 member states must first agree an a common position and agenda.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said he hopes that the meeting could be held before Israel enters in election mode on November 1st. ‘’Member states almost unanimously agreed that if they are able to agree on a common position and agenda, there is no necessity to wait after November 1st,’’ he said.

The EU-Israel Association Council is the highest body at ministerial level that discusses bilateral relations. It has not met since 2012 because of disagreements on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

 

European Union Foreign Ministers  agreed Monday to hold a meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council, the highest body at ministerial level that discusses bilateral relations and that has not met since 2012.

EU’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell announced the unanimous agreement at a press conference following the Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Brussels.

He didn’t mention a  specific date for such a meeting but said the 27 EU Foreign Ministers need first to agree on a ‘’common position’’ before setting a date with Israel for convening the Association Council. ”This is the rule with each Association Council,” he explained.

Borrell said he hopes that the meeting could be held before Israel enters in elections on November 1st. ‘’Member states almost unanimously agreed that if they are able to agree on a common position and agenda, there is no necessity to wait after November 1st,’’ Borrell said.

He added that if this is not possible ‘’we will have to wait for a new (Israeli) government to be formed.’’

If the meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council takes place before the November elections, Israel would be represented by its Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, who is also interim Prime Minister.

Borrell said that the EU position in supporting the two-state solution ‘’has not changed.’’ He added that as the situation in the Palestinian territories ‘’is deteriorating’’, it would be a good occasion to discuss it with Israel.’’

‘’It will be a good opportunity to rethink the Middle East peace process,’’ he said.

The last meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council was held in 2012. Since then, political disagreements on the Israel-Palestinian peace process, in particular on the settlements issue, has prevented a new meeting which is normally due to be held every year.

It was created in the framework of the 2000 EU-Israel Association Agreement. Cooperation between the EU and Israel on bilateral issues such as trade, technology, science, security, culture, education… is very intense.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Israel in June in order to deepen EU-Israel relations and partnership in particular on energy cooperation as Israel is working hard to be able to export some of its offshore gas resources to Europe, which is looking to replace Russian fossil fuel purchases since the invasion of Ukraine and sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s regime.

As Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid met his EU colleagues in Brussels in July 2021.

The Czech Republic, a country with a very long and friendly relationship with Israel. took over this month  the rotating EU presidency of the Council of Ministers.

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