Yaïr Lapid, then Foreign Minister, with the chief with the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, on July 12, 2021 in Brussels. VIRGINIA MAYO/AP/SIPA / VIRGINIA MAYO/AP/SIPA
The letter sent on Tuesday 27 September by some sixty Palestinian and European NGOs to seek the annulment of the Association Council between the European Union (EU) and Israel will not have changed that. Ten years after its last meeting, Brussels has decided to revive this platform for political dialogue between the Twenty-Seven and the Jewish State. A political gesture intended in particular to support the liberal Israeli Prime Minister Yaïr Lapid before the new elections planned for November 1st.
The Israeli leader was due to meet by video conference on Monday 3 October with EU High Representative Josep Borrell, Neighborhood Policy Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi and member countries’ foreign ministers. “There is great hope that this council will give our relations … a new impetus,” Jan Lipavsky, the Czech foreign minister, told Politico. This revival of dialogue marks a gradual alignment of European politics with the positions of the Jewish state and with it a growing disinterest in the fate of the Palestinians.
“A blank check brought to Israel”
“Despite the increase in human rights abuses by Israel in the occupied territories, the European Union rewards [ce pays] with this association agreement, Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch protests. There is no pressure on Israel to change its well-documented illegal practices in the Palestinian territories. “It’s a blank check brought to Israel regardless of which government comes out of the ballot box,” notes Marie Arena, President of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights.
The re-establishment of the Association Council follows more than two years of intense lobbying by Israeli diplomacy to normalize its relations with the Old Continent. “In 2012, European diplomats tied the return to normal bilateral relations to progress in the peace process with the Palestinians,” recalls a diplomat familiar with the talks. “The arrival of Yaïr Lapid, a liberal close to Emmanuel Macron, at the helm of the government has opened an opportunity despite the current deadlock on the peace process,” he continues.
Europe wants to secure allies
“The European Union has always had to balance two positions on Israel,” stresses Hugh Lovatt of the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank in London. One that focuses on security, the economy, where it defends its interests. The other where she defends her values, especially her support for the Palestinians and the peace process. Today we have clearly sided with defending our interests. »
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