JERUSALEM—Israel’s Minister for Regional Development, Tsachi Hanegbi, has expressed the hope to build a new relationship with the European Union now that a new EU leadership is in place in Brussels and after years of ‘’frozen’’ political ties.
‘’It is true that for a while nothing did happened. Europe is our major trade partner, more than the US, and we would like of course to build a new relationship with the EU and with the new EU leadership,’’ he told a group of European journalists on a visit to Israel organized by Europe Israel Press Association (EIPA).
Hanegbi, who is one of the top figures within the Likud party,was in charge of representing Israel in various forums of the EU. ‘’I have had many good discussions with Federica Mogherini,’’ (the outgoing EU’s foreign affairs chief who is succeeded by the former Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell).
He also said the time has come for a ‘’new thinking’’ between Israel and the Palestinians. ‘’We have been waiting and waiting for President Trump’s initiative BUT it never came. Jason Greenblatt (the US President Mideast envoy) left.I don’t know how much attention the president will have in the coming months to our region.Israel and the Palestinians should seat together and try to begin think more creative and to renew the negotiations.’’
He added, ‘’I understand that this cannot happen until Israel has a new leadership that is elected, has a majority in the parliament and move forward. So we have to wait but a new thinking should be the right direction.’’
This concept of a ‘’new thinking’’ on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was also evoked by the Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney on a visit to Israel where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. ‘’We will continue to advocate for new thinking because I think a solution now is probably not the same as what a solution looked like 20 years ago,’’ Coveney, whose country is considered among the most critical of Israel in Europe, told the Israeli Kan public broadcaster.
He said his country has blocked a controversial bill in the Irish parliament that would make it a crime to sell or buy products from the settlements in Ireland.