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EU invites Israel to discuss bilateral relations amid Gaza offensives

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Yeni Safak | 6 June 2024

EU invites Israel to discuss bilateral relations amid Gaza offensives

The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell announced on Wednesday that he has formally invited the Israeli foreign minister to an ad hoc EU-Israel Association Council meeting.

The invitation comes after EU foreign ministers agreed last week to call a meeting to discuss Israel’s compliance with its human rights obligations under the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

In February, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and then-Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar urged the bloc to urgently review the agreement "to investigate whether the essential points of the relationship in terms of human rights and democratic principles are being complied with.”

They proposed that if Israel is found to be in breach of its obligation, the Council of the EU should take appropriate actions.

The EU-Israel Association Agreement, which entered into force in 2000, provides a legal and institutional framework for political dialogue and economic cooperation between the EU and Israel.

Article 2 of the agreement says it is based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, defined as an “essential element” of the pact.

The EU is Israel’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 28.8% of its trade in goods in 2022, according to the European Commission.

Spanish daily El Pais said trade is one of the main ways the EU hopes to pressure Israel toward a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli forces have killed more than 36,000 Palestinians since an Oct. 7 Hamas attack that claimed 1,200 lives.

The EU supports the latest US-proposed truce agreement.

“The EU urges both parties to accept and fulfil the three-phase proposal and stands ready to contribute to reviving a political process for a lasting and sustainable peace, based on the two-state solution, and to support a coordinated international effort to rebuild Gaza,” read a statement by the 27-member bloc released on Tuesday.

No date has been set for this ad-hoc meeting to review the association agreement.

 source: Yeni Safak