The two sides have decided to hold an “Israel – European Union Summit” later this year aimed strengthening of ties.
By Erin Viner
“Israel is opening a new page in its relations with the European Union,” declared Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, following a meeting yesterday with the High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell in Brussels.
“We intend to host the meeting in Jerusalem,” he added, according to a statement TV obtained from the Israeli Foreign Ministry (MFA).
The development signals the lifting of tensions between the sides in March, when the top EU diplomat refused a request from Minister Cohen to cancel a European Parliament debate entitled the “Deterioration of Democracy in Israel and Consequences on the Occupied Territories.“
At that time, Minister Cohen also conveyed Jerusalem’s outrage over interference in the country’s domestic affairs. Relaying portions of the conversation at the start of the parliamentary discussion, the EU Foreign Policy Chief complained that Cohen had unfairly blamed him for both the title and his appearance at the event, which he claimed was mandatory. “I had to come. It is not me who put this title …. It is the political groups. And this parliament is able to discuss everything they consider important and that’s what I tried to explain to the Israeli Minister, very friendlily,”Cohen state 2 months ago.
in an article published in the Project Syndicate, Minister Cohen had also criticized his EU counterpart for equating Palestinian terror attacks and IDF operations – – including the terrorists themselves. Borrell responded, “It is normal that the parliamentarians are concerned for the growing spiral of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories and the need for all sides to deescalate the situation. I mentioned this agreement that we reached, the 27 member states, where we of course condemn terrorism. Of course, we fully recognize the Israeli right to defend itself and we certainly never draw comparison between operations by the Israeli military and actions of terrorists, but we have to call for the proportional use of force.”
Aggression against Israel perpetrated by the Palestinians was also a topic during Cohen’s talks with Borrell in the Belgian capital on Tuesday.
“I was happy to hear Borrell’s condemned the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel and Palestinian terrorism, while reiterating the European Union’s commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself,” said Jerusalem’s top diplomat.
Israel again called on the EU Foreign Policy Chief to issue an unequivocal condemnation of the Palestinian Authority’s “Pay to Slay” program of paying salaries to terrorists who murdered Israeli citizens, which Minister Cohen underscored only serves to “incite and encourage terrorism.” Ramallah has long awarded financial windfall to Palestinian terrorists and their families on a graduating scale determined by the severity of their crimes.
Turning to threats posed by nuclear development in Iran, the Israeli Foreign Minister called for the imposition of addition punitive sanctions on the Islamic Republic, stressing the urgency of united action to prevent Tehran’s acquisition of atomic weapons.