EU to strengthen relations with Israel
BRUSSELS - Agence France-PresseThe European Union looks poised to strengthen ties with Israel by approving 60 new cooperation activities, including closer cooperation on transport and energy, and enhanced ties with nine European Union agencies, despite its recent denunciation of Israeli policy, diplomats have told Agence France Presse.
The launch of the new activities, to be endorsed at high-level EU-Israel talks in Brussels on today, has angered critics. They say it is politically inopportune and clumsy, condoning the very Israeli actions EU foreign ministers condemned in a strongly worded statement issued on May 14.
In the May statement, the bloc’s 27 foreign ministers said the gathering pace of settlement building, settler extremism and the ill-treatment of Palestinians “threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.” The new move, details of which were outlined to AFP at the weekend, involves closer cooperation on transport and energy, and enhanced ties with nine EU agencies, including the police body Europol and the European Space Agency.
EU continues to carry out existing plan with Israel
“There is absolutely no change in our policy,” said one EU official, who asked to remain anonymous. “EU policy was always to continue implementing the existing action plan with Israel. Paul Hirschson, deputy spokesman at Israel’s foreign ministry, made a similar point. “This is related to the existing work plan rather than some sort of upgrade because that way, the EU would have to find a way of delinking it from the peace process,” he said.