EU’s foreign policy chief expected to visit Israel in December
Europeran Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell (left) meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Brussels in May. Picture from EU/Twitter.
According to an EU statement release after Borrell’s meeting last week with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, both the EU and Israel "looked forward to the upcoming visit of HRVP Borrell to Israel". Borrell "will also visit Palestine on this occasion", the statement added.
During their meeting, Borrell informed Minister Cohen about the results of the ministerial meeting he co-chaired on 18 September, together with Saudi Arabia, the League of Arab States, Egypt, and Jordan, to explore ways to revive Middle East Peace efforts. ‘’He underlined that the “Peace Day Effort” that was launched aims at developing a positive vision with broad support from the international community to help advance peace, stability, and security in the region,’’ the EU statement said.
Borrell stressed ‘’the importance he attaches to engaging with Israel, one of EU’s closest partners in the region, as closely as possible and keeping it informed of the ‘Peace Day Effort’.’’
He recalled that the European Union "is seeking an open and constructive exchange with Israel on the Middle East Peace Process" and that "the EU and its member states remain firmly committed to the Two-State Solution and stand ready to contribute to a peace process".
The two men also discussed bilateral relations, as well as regional issues.Advertisement
Borrell affirmed that the EU is keen to expand further the strong cooperation with Israel. ‘’The European Union and Israel stressed their will to continue deepening their bilateral dialogue, including during the next meeting of the Association Council, which should be convened soon.’’
The announcement of Borrell’s visit to Israel is a sign of the two parties’ willingness to ‘’open a new page’’ after a tense period in their relations caused by differences in their approach to the Palestinians.
While Brussels and Jerusalem enjoyed a periode of improved ties under the previous government led by former Prime Ministers Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, relations were rather strained following the establishment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition last December.
Last May, during a meeting in Brussels, Cohen invited Borrell, a former Spanish Foreign Minister, to Israel. According to the Israeli foreign minister, the two agreed to hold the annual EU-Israel Association Council, the highest level body governing relations between the two sides, in Jerusalem.
The Borrell-Cohen meeting came after a tense period during which Israel harshly criticized the EU foreign policy chief, who is considered by Israel as one of the more adversarial figures at the top of the EU institutions, after he published in March an article equating Israeli victims of terror with terrorists killed by the Israeli army.
According to the Israeli media, Cohen condemned the comments in a tense phone call with Borrell, and indicated at the time that it would not have been a good time for the EU diplomat to visit Israel.
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