NETANYAHU ATTENDS FUNERAL OF LATE GERMAN CHANCELLOR HELMUT KOHL

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by his wife Sara, attended the funeral of former German chancellor Helmut Kohl at the European Parliament in  Strasbourg, France on Saturday.

Kohl died at the age of 87 on June 16.

The burial ceremony was also attended by world leaders including current German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and former US president Bill Clinton.

The prime minister was reportedly asked to speak during the ceremony, but respectively declined due to the Shabbot observance.

Netanyahu thanked Merkel before the funeral for concluding procedures ahead of the signing of a memorandum of understanding for security assistance between both nations after Germany’s National Security Council reportedly approved the sale of three advanced submarines to Israel on Saturday.

According to the report, Israel will receive three more Dolphin submarines in a $1.5 billion deal with German shipmaker ThyssenKrupp.

Macron also told Netanyahu that he expects the premier to attend an event in Paris marking the 75 anniversary of Jewish expulsion from France scheduled in two weeks. Netanyahu along with Macron are both expected to speak at the event.

Following the late German leader’s death, Netanyahu praised Kohl’s “commitment to Israel’s security” during his tenure as chancellor, and expressed appreciation for his “empathy” for the Jewish state.

“His sympathy for Israel and Zionism is reflected in my many meetings with him,” Netanyahu continued, “and his position was always firmly in favor of Israel, which has been steadily present in Europe and in other international forums.”

epa06059220 Soldiers carry the coffin of Helmut Kohl at the European Parliament as world leaders gather for the European Ceremony of Honour for late former German chancellor Helmut Kohl in Strasbourg, France, 01 July 2017. Kohl, widely regarded as the father of German reunification in 1990, died on 16 June 2017 at his home in Ludwighshafen, Germany. He was the sixth chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1982 to 1998. EPA/PATRICK SEEGER

The article was published on The JPost


13-year-old terror victim tells story at European Parliament

A 13-year-old survivor of a terrorist attack addresses the guests and few parliamentarians who show up to witness the new group sign a declaration opposing BDS.

Under 2 percent of the European Parliament, along with 150 guests, attended the inaugural ceremony for the Friends of Judea and Samaria in the European Parliament intergroup in Brussels on Tuesday.

Thirteen-year-old Ayla Shapira, a resident of Samaria who she was injured at age 11 when terrorists threw a firebomb at the car she was travelling in, addressed the 15 MEPs and guests, sharing her personal story.

She explained that her family was attacked by a 16-year-old Palestinian who wanted to receive payments for his family while he was jailed for his attack. Shapira asked the parliamentarians to consider that fact when they believe themselves to be sending aid money to Palestinians for the purposes of peace.

The intergroup was established on the initiative of the foreign relations group of the Samaria Regional Council, the head of which, Yossi Dagan, was present and spoke at the ceremony.

West Bank representatives signed a joint declaration with the MEPs promising to cooperate to stop the funding of terrorism and reduce trade barriers facing Jewish pioneers in Judea and Samaria. During the event, the participants toasted with wine produced in the West Bank.

Three MEPs spoke at the event. The cofounder of the Group of Friends of Judea and Samaria in the European Parliament,Petr Mach spoke, as well as Fulvio Matruscielli, and Branislav Škripek. They all expressed their support for Israel.

In addition, Nati Rom, the founder of Lev HaOlam (a West Bank organization that helped to organize the event), spoke about the organization’s efforts to fight against BDS by distributing products from the West Bank around the world. He emphasized that “the forces driving terror are the same ones that call for boycotting Israel. Communities must work together against this discrimination of Jewish products and preserve the free market.”

The article was published on Ynet on the 28.03.2017 (in the link you can also find a video with her speech)


On the EU Agenda

EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Federica Mogherini will adress the European Parliament on Wednesday 6th of July. She will be presenting the European External Action Service’ Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy. The document , published in June 2016 underlined EU support for a two-state solution.

Then, she will outline the new initiatives adopted by the Quartet regarding the Middle East Peace Process. 

The Quartet denounced the use of violence of the Palestinians, and the constant incitement against Israelis. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was reportedly furious about the Quartet conclusions.

 

Follow HR Mogherini speech here at 15:00 on Wednesday in the following link : 

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/plenary/en/home.html— 

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EU is shamefully ignoring number one Israeli concern: Security

Europe’s media are rightly focussed on the despicable Islamist stabbing attack in Munich this morning that has left one dead and three injured.

So most Europeans will have undoubtedly missed that in Jerusalem, also this morning, two 80 year old women were stabbed in the back whilst out for a morning stroll by Palestinian assailants who fled the scene and went back to East Jerusalem.

Two 80 year old women. Probably grandmothers. About as much threat to anyone as a feather duster.

Shlomi Tedegi, a medic, described the scene of the attack: “In an area adjacent to the promenade we saw two approximately 80-year-old elderly women lying in the dirt. They were fully conscious and suffering from stab wounds, one in the extremities and her upper body and the second in her upper body.”

Meanwhile in Gaza, the Israeli defence forces keep uncovering fresh terror tunnels, and large amounts of chemicals used to propel rockets.

Starting tonight, Israel marks Yom HaZikaron, the remembrance day for all the soldiers who have fallen in defence of the country, from 1948, 1967, 1973, two Lebanon wars and all the attacks and skirmishes in between, as well as remembering the 23,447     Israeli citizens murdered to date by terrorists. It is rare to meet a single Israeli whose family circle or whose friends haven’t been touched someway by terrorism, or a loss of a loved one on active duty. This remembrance day is not harking back to a bygone age, it reflects every day reality and the price that Israel pays for simply existing. The numbers go up every year.

The number one overarching concern for Israeli citizens, wherever they are, is security. They want the freedom that most of us enjoy in Europe, despite the recent terror attacks: to live a life without concern that you may be stabbed, blown up on a bus, your house hit by a rocket or just randomly targeted to be shot whether you are a boy, girl, man, woman, pensioner, whatever.

Events in Munich, and the threat of Munich – and much worse besides – is the daily reality for Israeli citizens.

And sadly, shamefully, it is being massively overlooked by the EU. Who prefer to hold debates about settlements, and later today in Strasbourg about demolitions of illegal Palestinian buildings in Area C.

Tonight’s debate in the European Parliament, where EEAS Chief Federica Mogherini will speak too, is symptomatic of this myopia and, to be brutally honest, total lack of regard for Israeli security.

There is a simple and perhaps inconvenient truth that the EU must digest: The Palestinian population is currently completely unprepared for peace. They are fed from birth with a steady and unrelenting diatribe of hatred for Jews and Israelis.  They are incited to stab, murder and maim. Most cannot even countenance the existence of the State of Israel. As one Israeli academic and thinker once noted “Even if we were to move all of Israel into a small apartment in Tel Aviv, it would be too much for them”.

Taking all of the above into consideration and in the absence of any concerted EU effort to tackle this ongoing and daily incitement, this raw and unbridled hatred that saw two stabbed 80 year olds lying in the dirt; we would respectfully ask any European citizen if they would want unchecked and illegal construction of homes by people who seek their and their family’s destruction within rocket reach of their own homes, cities, villages or hamlets?

We think the answer would be a resounding no.

So why must it be imposed on Israeli citizens? Something for all of us to think about as MEPs and Mrs Mogherini gather this evening to discuss demolitions of illegal buildings that they support through EU taxpayer funded programmes.

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This Article was written by our executive director , Alex Benjamin and was published on The Times of Israel


MEP of the Month: Daniel Hannan

An arch Eurosceptic might at first seem an odd choice for an Israeli advocacy organisation based in Brussels, where liaising directly with the European Institutions is our bread and butter, but few people are more friendly to Israel’s cause than Daniel Hannan.

In a recent TV debate with EIPA’s director, he stated his opposition to the EU, through deciding what territory Israel should and shouldn’t have, of predetermining final borders ahead of any negotiations.

And that’s not all: Mr Hannan came up with such a succinct summary of Israel and its detractors that we wish we had his eloquence.

“Israel’s story is by no means unblemished; but it is uplifting. It’s a story of how freedom can take root in even the most unpromising conditions. Such a story appeals to optimistic types, but repels the envious, the eternally aggrieved, the gloomsters who see free markets as some kind of racket — the same people, indeed, who tend also to be anti-British and anti-American, whether they be Left Bank intellectuals or Putinite nationalists or Bolivarian revolutionaries.”

Mazal Tov Daniel and thank you!

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EIPA advisory board meeting

Today (25th of February) Members of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee and MEPs on EIPA’s Advisory Board met with Mr. Ohad Cohen, Head of Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry.

The joint event in conjunction with Israel’s Ministry of Trade and Mission to the EU, underlined the importance of strong EU-Israel bilateral trade relations.

With a current détente in relations between the EU and Israel following the fallout of the labelling guidelines, MEPs, key staffers and representatives of the Ministry of Trade, held a round table discussion about the clear mutual benefits to both Israel and the EU of continued trade arrangements and Research and Development programs.

MEPs did however hear of Israel’s concerns about the spill-over effects of the labelling guidelines and the associated possibility of a “quiet boycott” of Israeli companies and products which may happen under the radar.

Another key question raised was how to ensure that EU-Israel economic relations were decoupled from matters relating to the on-going political machinations of the peace process.


Israel, EU in secret talks to end diplomatic crisis

Talks aimed at reaching understandings that would restart talks on Palestinian issue

Representatives of Israel and the European Union last week began low-key talks to resolve the current diplomatic crisis between the two players over the EU’s decision to label products manufactured in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the Israeli Haaretz daily reported.

Israeli officials told Haaretz that officials are currently working toward reaching agreements that would bring the relationship back on track.

According to the report, Helga Schmid, the EU’s Deputy Secretary General for the External Action Service, arrived in Israel last week.

During the secret visit, Schmid met with Foreign Ministry director general Dore Gold, as well as representatives of the National Security Council in the Prime Minister’s Office and officials from other ministries.

According to an unnamed official, Israel conveyed to Schmid that a condition for renewing dialogue with the EU regarding the Palestinian issue was that the EU take on a more respectful and balanced approach towards Israel.

“We told them that the decisions of the EU’scouncil of foreign ministers and the decision on the labeling of [settlement] products were unilateral and in fact adopted the Palestinian narrative. That’s no way to conduct a respectful dialogue,” the official told Haaretz.

Following the EU’s decision to release guidelines for labeling products from the settlements in supermarket chains throughout the continent, Israel announced that it was suspending some of the dialogue meetings with the EU, mainly regarding Palestinian projects and EU projects in Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank.

The EU has insisted it was only clarifying existing rules on the place of origin for goods that will go on sale in the 28-nation bloc, adding that it had nothing to do with a boycott, which it says it does not support.

“For the past two weeks talks have been underway toward resolution with the EU,” an official in Jerusalem said.

The official added: “Israel’s ambassador to the EU institutions in Brussels, David Walzer, held talks on the matter and Helga Schmid visited here. The goal of the talks was to try to reach understandings that would restart talks on the Palestinian issue.”

The official told Haaretz the details were still not final, adding: “The EU is very unhappy that we froze everything having to do with the peace process vis a vis them. They understand that they have to give us something, in a statement, action or a more positive approach.”

This article was post on i24news on the 10th of February 2016

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Safeguarding the Peace Process Can the EU Be an “Honest Broker”?

After a difficult end to 2015 in the EU-Israel relationship due to the labelling guidelines, EIPA kicked off 2016 with a hugely successful standing room only event in the European Parliament entitled “Safeguarding the Peace Process: can the EU be an honest broker?”

Hosted by European Parliament Vice-President Pascu and Lars Adaktusson MEP, the cross party event heard from distinguished Israeli and EU speakers on the subject of Palestinian incitement, conditioning EU aid on a rejection of Incitement to violence and lastly on the EU’s role in the Peace Process. 


How one phrase divided the EU and Israel

The decision to label settlement goods causes friction within the bloc and strains ties with a staunch ally.

Israel’s U.S. ambassador sent gift boxes for the 2015 holiday season containing wine, olive oil, body cream, and halva — and a defiant note calling out the European Union.

The products came from what the international community considers to be occupied territories, and Ambassador Ron Dermer was determined to make a blunt point about the EU’s recent move to instruct member countries on how to label goods produced in areas outside Israel’s 1967 borders.

“The Jewish state is singled out and held to a different standard than other countries,” Dermer wrote. “Of the over 200 unresolved territorial disputes around the world, Europe decided that only these Jewish-made products deserved to be labeled.”

“In response to this effort to cast a beacon of freedom, tolerance and decency as a pariah state, I have decided this holiday season to send you products that were made in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights,” he added.

Dermer’s reaction reflected the anger that many in Israel felt after the EU announced that the wording such as “product of West Bank (Israeli settlement)” should be displayed on cosmetics and food products, similar to the guidelines already in place inBelgium, the U.K  and Denmark.

An Israeli settler prepares olive oil containers at the Achia Olive press factory in the Jewish settlement of Shilo in the occupied West Bank on November 12, 2015. The European Union announced that goods from settlements -- Jewish communities built in areas occupied by force in 1967 -- must be specifically labelled, infuriating Israel. The EU ruling affects products imported from settlements in the occupied West Bank, east Jerusalem and Golan Heights, all taken by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

More than one month after the guidelines were issued, the fallout continues. The decision has dogged European officials, caused friction within the European Union and strained the bloc’s ties with Israel.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini faced combined pressure, built up over several years, from the European Parliament and EU countries critical of Israel’s settlement activity to act. But now, as she tries to reassert her role as a trusted broker in the Middle East peace process, the labeling decision has made her task difficult.

“For Mogherini it’s never been the right time,” said Hugh Lovatt, the Israel/Palestine project coordinator at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “She ran out of runway and had to issue it before the Foreign Affairs Council meeting on November 16, because member states said ‘we don’t want to have to bring this up again.’”

In the immediate aftermath, Israeli canceled some meetings, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “The labeling of products of the Jewish state by the European Union brings back dark memories; Europe should be ashamed of itself.”

Then, at the end of November, Israel announced that it was suspending diplomatic contact with EU officials involved in peace efforts with the Palestinians.

“There have been a lot of gesticulations from the Israelis,” said one European diplomat, adding that particular ire had been directed at France, Belgium, Malta, Ireland and Sweden — countries traditionally seen as being more likely to criticize Israel.

But the diplomat said the EU is talking to Israel as before, pointing out that Fernando Gentilini, the EU’s Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, did not raise the issue on his recent visit to Israel.

The Israeli reaction “is an intimidation technique that the Israelis have tried and tested many times,” said the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. “For us, there’s no fundamental questioning of our relationship with Israel.”

Hostage to politics

Mogherini had a model for how not to proceed, in the previous attempt, by her predecessor, Catherine Ashton.

“It was handled badly,” a source close to this year’s deliberations said of the labeling guidelines proposed in 2013. “The Americans never heard about the proposal [before it was issued] and neither did the Israelis.”

Ashton’s push came at a time when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was trying to revitalize the peace process. Israel complained and at Kerry’s request the EU shelved the proposal, which was hardly heard from again during the rest of Ashton’s tenure.

This time around, the U.S., Israel and the Palestinians were informed before the guidelines were released. “The work of quiet diplomacy,” the source said.

Another element of the strategy employed by Mogherini’s team was to attempt to use both political and technical arguments. Unlike the Ashton move, which was handled exclusively through the European External Action Service, this time more prominence was given to the role played by the Commission’s trade directorate.

“The EEAS chose to put communication on this matter in the hands of DG Trade, and say it was purely technical,” an EU official said. “As a way to unload the burden.”

In issuing the guidelines, an EU official argued the Commission was merely responding to member states’ request for “full and efficient implementation of existing legislation when it comes to the [Israeli] settlements.”

“This notice does not create any new legislative rules,” a Commission spokesperson said. “While it reflects the Commission’s understanding of the relevant EU legislation, enforcement remains the primary responsibility of member states.”

European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskisreiterated that the labeling instructions were just “a technical issue, not a political stance.”

The problem, according to Lovatt, was that by delaying publication out of fear of stoking tensions in the region, “Ashton and then Mogherini held the labeling guidelines hostage to political considerations — so they’ve lost the legal, technical argument which they’ve had in previous situations.”

He compared the labeling fuss to the way Brussels brought in its rules for financing going to entities located beyond Israel’s 1967 borders.

“There was no attempt to intervene politically to delay the EU’s funding guidlines in July 2013,” Lovatt said. “In that case the EU stuck to its guns without having to sacrifice political capital.”

Instead, on labeling, “it has taken three years and two ministerial letters to write three pages,” one exasperated diplomat pointed out. “We organized the Crimea sanctions against Russia in three weeks! It’s unfortunate, if this had gone ahead three years ago we would have avoided the hysterics.”

This article was written by Vince Chadwick and Maia De La Baume and was published on the Politico website on 04/01/2016


Comical Abbas?

Mahmoud Abbas is such a master of stretching the elasticity of the truth, such a perverter of language, that in ordinary circumstances you couldn’t help but admire his downright deluded chutzpah. This week he reminded us here at Europe Israel Public Affairs of Comical Ali, the information minister during the Iraq War, with his lies and deluded pronouncements.

But this is not something that we can laugh at. He is the Leader of Israel’s supposed partner in peace. He is supposed to represent Palestinian interests. In short he is supposed to be a statesman.

Instead, he continues to incite violence and terror, firstly by feeding Palestinian paranoia about Israel’s desire to change the status of the Temple Mount (something that is patently and unequivocally untrue, as Israel has repeatedly stated), secondly by lying about Israel murdering a teenager (said teenager is in fact being treated well in an Israeli hospital despite his attempt to murder in a stabbing attack), thirdly by his downright refusal to accept responsibility for starting the fire of violence and terror, and lastly, and perhaps most sinisterly, his continuing and frankly shameful refusal to condemn the attacks and call on them to end.

People on both sides are dying because of it.

This week we were also treated to another word bending extravaganza worthy of the world finest linguistic contortionist. These acts against innocent Israelis (including the stabbing of a 70 year grandmother at a bus stop) are deemed as “popular resistance”.

Now, when most people think of “popular resistance” they think of a strike, a picket line, a demonstration, or something like social protests. For Mahmoud Abbas scores of teenagers roaming the streets, shops, bus stops, trams, synagogues, restaurants, bars, schools, wherever to stab Jews (any Jew will do) is not attempted or wilful murder. Its not terrorism. Its popular resistance.

A Palestinian man ran into a group of orthodox Jews at a tram stop this week, got out and used a hatchet to hack at the injured. In this distorted Palestinian world, the assailant told his attorney (remember that Israel affords the basic human right to legal representation despite the lack of respect of human right shown by those committing such abhorrent crimes), that this was in fact…wait for it…A car accident. He had clearly learned a trick or two from his master in Ramallah.

What are European Leaders saying about this? They are urging both sides to restrain. Both sides. Is the lunacy of Abbas’s language so contagious that it has spread to the EU Institutions? Has political correctness got so bad and so twisted that the attempted murderer and the 70 year old are treated the same? As if she prompted the attack? Mr Abbas must be laughing to himself at such a false premise.

13 MEPs, all friends or members of EIPAs’ political advisory board, wrote last week to EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini and European Parliament President Martin Schulz, urging them to send a strong and unambiguous message to Mahmoud Abbas that incitement to hatred and silence in the face of murder would not be tolerated by the Brussels institutions.

As of today, still nothing. Not even a courteous acknowledgement of the letter by democratically elected parliamentarians from across the political divide and across the continent. Mr Schulz delivered his state of the Union speech to the European Summit yesterday here in Brussels and didn’t even mention events in Jerusalem.

Despite all of this, despite a bewildered, afraid and traumatised Israeli public, may of whom are calling for a tough response, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again, and only yesterday, extended his invitation for peace talks with Mr Abbas, at a place of his choosing and without pre-conditions.

Like him or loathe him. Mr Netanyahu is showing statesmanship and solid political leadership.

One doesn’t expect any reciprocity from the Palestinian leader.

But one certainly does from Brussels. The fact that a strong statement is not forthcoming from the EU’s leadership, that outright murder is couched and downgraded through political language and that the aggressor is treated in equal terms as the victim, is indeed worthy of the late comical Ali.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 2.58.57 PMExcept nobody in Israel, nor indeed the hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Europe, are laughing.

Instead they feel nauseous. It feels to them like Israeli and Jewish lives don’t matter.

And Europe, right now, is doing nothing to prove that this is not, in fact, the case.

Alex Benjamin is the director of EIPA


EIPA Advisory Board Breakfast Briefing

Today Members of the European Parliament and EIPA’s Advisory Board took part in a special breakfast briefing with H.E. Ambassador of Israel to the European Union, David Walzer on the recent wave of terror attacks on Israeli civilians. The MEPs discussed other pressing issues for the EU-Israel relationship such as the security implications of the ISIS presence in Iraq and Syria and the new dynamics in the region as a whole.

 

 


EU, Israel and the peace process in the Middle East

Tomorrow, Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on a report considering the policy of EU, concerning the situation in the Middle East.

My party group have together with the other big party groups negotiated a common report, which in many parts is well balanced. Some essential parts are still missing: Clearer condemnations of Hamas regime of terror, the absence of democracy and freedom at the PLO-controlled West bank, as well as the responsibility of the surrounding Arab dictatorships concerning their support to terrorism and making today´s situation with refugees permanent, as well as the fact that Palestinian refugees are denied citizenship and human rights in the Arab counties.

The role of EU in the Middle East has been unclear and indecisive for a long time. One reson for this is that the Israelis in many aspects lack confidence for the EU. This is fully understandable, since the hostility against Israel and anti-Semitism has grown continuously stronger in Europe during the last past years. From the European parliament and from the member states of the EU, unbalanced and biased statements about Israel are often delivered. The understanding for the exposed situation of the country, as well as its legit right to safety, is sorely missing. During the last year left wing parties in several European parliaments have demanded the acknowledgement of a Palestinian State, without any requirements at all concerning human rights and democracy.

Many with me hope that EU in the long run will be able to play a constructive role in a new peace- process between Israelis and Palestinians. For this to be possible, though, a realistic policy based on clear condemnation of all forms of terrorism and an acknowledgement that the goal is two democratic states, for two people,  living side by side within safe boarders, is required. 

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Below my speech in the plenary:

Mr President,

This debate is intended to give space for an exchange of views on how the EU can contribute to a renewed peace process in the Middle East.

Let me address those blaming Israel for the non-existent negotiation talks – those trying to pave the way for an EU boycott of Israeli products – those naming Israel an apartheid state. By doing this, you are not contributing to a constructive EU-role in the current situation.

A trustful relationship is based upon mutual confidence – a one sided EU position will not facilitate a peace dialog between Israelis and Palestinians.

Let me say that today´s joint resolution has a fairly balanced approach. Despite this, I fear that the preconceptions we have seen over the years, seriously has damaged the credibility of the EU.

Israelis of course take notice of the spread of anti-Israeli sentiments – as well as anti-semitism in Europe.

Mr President, this needs to be confronted.

And let´s be clear:

The only liberal democracy in the Middle East will never be a bigger problem than the evil dictatorships and terrorist groups in the surrounding region.

Thank you.

The text was published on MEP Lars Adaktusson blog on September 9th 2015


Israelis, don’t give up on Europe

Have you ever lost touch with a friend that you used to get on with? You aim to stay in touch but then after a while it doesn’t happen. The time of absence becomes embarrassingly long and instead of trying to rekindle things, it’s easier to let things slide. One side feels bitter at the spurn while the other is oblivious and just carries on with their life.

That’s what the EU-Israel relationship feels like just now.

The last Israeli Prime Minister to visit the capital of the EU institutions was Yitzak Rabin. That was 20 years ago. By any definition that’s one hell of a gap between visits.

And the EU isn’t best pleased.

I’m in Israel often, and on flights there I’m invariably sat beside someone who over the meal or drink inquires as to my visit. I tell them I am a director of a public affairs and press organisation that seeks to bring the EU and Israel closer together.

The answer is 99.9% the same and a variation of this: “Kol Hakavod, but you are wasting your time, Europe doesn’t understand us and we have given up on it, but hey thanks for trying.”

Whether we like it or not, the EU’s influence on world affairs is growing. The heads of the Institutions have simply invested too much in the EU’s foreign policy arm – the European External Action Service (EEAS) – and in the appointment of a dedicated High Represenative in Mrs Mogherini, not to say opening EEAS offices around the globe, to not elbow their way onto negotiating tables in areas of conflict around the globe.

And in the European Parliament, pro-European parties who make up a majority of MEPs are 100% behind the initiative. Like some banks were in the financial crisis, the EEAS is the political definition of too big to fail.

Let us be honest, the EEAS has not exactly covered itself in glory when it comes to the Middle East since it’s creation. It’s influencein Egypt, Syria, Libya and latterly Iran has been benign at best, or a downright failure at worst.

The service and the many parliamentarians who support it need a success story. And their collective eyes have settled on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

And they will use any means at their disposal to get Israel’s attention.

We anticipate a European Parliament statement on the Middle East peace process very shortly. The texts are being drafted as I write and my organisation and others in Brussels, are meeting MEPs to see what we can do to soothe the situation and get a decent outcome.

In the absence of a proper high-level dialogue between Israel and the EU, we will most likely see a strong and ill-tempered resolution that will call for an end to settlement construction.

With this will come some graduated sanctions, where the labelling of settlement products is a distinct likelihood.

All of this is borne out of frustration. Frustration at being ignored and frustration that the Prime Minister would rather spend his time in Milan, London, Paris or Berlin without even contemplating a courtesy call to Brussels.

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Which brings me back to friendship. Of course I get where Prime Minister Netanyahu is coming from.

It’s always easier to go see old established friends where you are guaranteed a warm welcome like the US Congress and Senate, or make new friends who don’t ask you any awkward questions like China or India.

But Israel has many, many friends in the EU. We meet with them everyday.

They care passionately about the country, and only want the best for its people. We meet parliamentarians, senior staffers and civil servants who all want to help. Bar none they are all fed up with hearing a lop-sided narrative, and who eagerly want to make a difference. Above all they just want to understand, to be briefed and feel that their efforts are reciprocated.

That is why it’s a diplomatic and strategic mistake to try and bypass the EU.

It takes two to tango, and right now the EU feels like a scorned lady on the diplomatic dancefloor.

As we approach the New Year, we look at our relationships and friendships and we seek to make amends.

It’s time the Prime Minister had a proper look at his with the EU.

 

The article was written by EIPA executive director, Alex Benjamin and was  published on Ynetnews on September the 5th, 2015.


Debate on the role of the EU in the Middle East Peace Process

The debate on the role of the EU in the Middle East Peace Process was postponed at the last minute!

The Socialists group decided to postpone in order to have it in the presence of Mrs Frederica Mogherini, VP and High Representative for Foreign Affairs.

The EP will vote on a text on this issue in September. It gives YOU the whole summer to talk to your MEP about it!

Stay tuned on the 22 July, for some announcement on the Middle East by the Foreign Affairs Council.