Friday, 18 Sep 2020 - 29 of Elul, 5780

In unprecedented initiative, more than a hundred EU, European and Israeli lawmakers urge EU to renew high-level political dialogue with Israel

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The initiative was led by Spanish Member of the European Parliament, Antonio López-Istúriz White, who chairs the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Israel. The letter was signed by leading lawmakers from 25 European countries and Israel.

In July, the EU and Israel will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Association Agreement between the two parties, which designates the Association Council as the official framework for ministerial-level dialogue.

More than a hundred leading EU, European and Israeli parliamentarians have jointly urge EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell to resume the EU-Israel Association Council meetings which have not been held since 2012.

“The election of a new Knesset and the establishment of a new coalition Government in Israel offer the opportunity to resume our political dialogue at the highest level,” the cross-party group of lawmakers wrote in a joint letter to the EU chief diplomat.

The initiative was led by Spanish Member of the European Parliament, Antonio López-Istúriz White, who chairs the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Israel. The letter was signed by leading lawmakers from 25 European countries and Israel.

In July, the EU and Israel will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Association Agreement between the two parties, which designates the Association Council as the official framework for ministerial-level dialogue.

Israel has been a strategic and close ally of the European Union, since even before the signature in 1995 of the Association Agreement. But no formal meeting of the Association Council was held since 2012 because some member states have blocked the holding of these meetings as a way to boycott Israel over its policy towards the Palestinians.  ”Instead of sitting around a table to discuss the matter, these Member States prefer to veto EU-Israel bilateral talks, something that is clearly harming the advancement of EU-Israel relations and progress towards peace and understanding in the region,” said López-Istúriz White earlier this year in  a parliamentary question to the High Representative.

In the letter to Borrell, the lawmakers point out that the Council has not held a formal meeting for nearly a decade, “despite pressing challenges and significant shared interests.”

The signatories urge the EU to relaunch the high-level council, in light of the establishment of a new coalition government in Israel, as an “effective forum for close dialogue and consultation.”

They further note that while the EU has adopted a set of joint policy priorities with five Southern partners – Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria, and Tunisia, to date no EU-Israel Partnership Priorities have been adopted.

Recalling recent statements by Borrell that the EU values its relationship with Israel and is keen to schedule a meeting of the Association Council as soon as a date can be mutually agreed on, the lawmakers state that renewing the high-level official dialogue would “promote a high degree of mutual confidence,” allowing for discussion not only on shared interests, but also on matters where the EU and Israel may differ.

ELNET (European Leadership Network), an organization dedicated to strengthening Europe-Israel relations, lauded the unprecedented initiative. ‘’We are encouraged by this clear and united call for renewing bilateral exchange by lawmakers from a broad political spectrum across Europe. It is high time that Europe reinvigorates this critical forum with Israel to discuss urgent security and economic interests in the face of growing international uncertainty,’’ it said.

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