The European Union-Israel Association Council is being revived, signaling a major shift in relations between the two entities.
The EU-Israel Association Council was originally established in 1996 to ensure dialogue and strengthen relations between Israel and the EU, but the group last met in 2012, The Jerusalem Post reports.
In 2013, Israel canceled the meeting as part of a protest over an EU decision that differentiated settlements and the rest of Israel.
Several EU countries then voted in the following years not to hold a meeting in protest of Israeli policies on Palestinians.
“The position of the EU has not changed with respect to the Middle East peace process, and we will continue ... supporting the two-state solution,” said EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell at the end of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting.
“We know the situation on the ground in the Palestinian territories is deteriorating, and I think ministers agree this association council is a good occasion to engage with Israel about these issues,” he added.
France’s envoy to Israel, Eric Danon, said in May that France, an EU member, was “looking forward to deepening the EU-Israel relations through the convening of the Association Council.”
France had tried in recent years to restart the association’s talks. Danon said he was glad plans were finally moving forward for the association.
“We are currently working toward this perspective, mindful of the political and technical conditions pertaining to the EU rules and framework.”
A 2022 meeting date has not been set, but Borrell said they will likely not wait until Israel’s next election, which is slated for November.
“Who knows when the next Israeli government will be formed? Maybe it will be six months or a year,” Borrell said.
Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid said that “the fact that the 27 foreign ministers of the European Union voted unanimously to strengthen economic and diplomatic ties with Israel roofed Israel’s diplomatic power and the government’s ability to create new opportunities with the international community.”
Reviving the talks between the EU and Israel was a goal for Minister Lapid.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Maksym Kapliuk
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.