EU Foreign Ministers confirm decision to upgrade and deepen relations with Israel
The Foreign Ministers of the 27 EU member states on Monday confirmed their decision to upgrade and deepen EU’s relations with Israel, according to European Jewish Press.
After talks in Brussels, the ministers said in a statement that the EU Council wanted to upgrade the level and intensity of its bilateral relation with Israel that had to be based on values shared by the two parties, "in particular democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, good governance and international humanitarian law."
The upgrading, the ministers said, must also been seen in the context of the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "through a solution based on the coexistence of two states, the promotion of peace, prosperity and stability in the Middle East."
Monday`s decision opened the way for upgrading the structures of the EU’s political dialogue with Israel. It will lead to convening the first-ever EU-Israel summit, at level of Prime Minister, most likely during the Czech EU presidency in the first half of 2009.
That would lead to EU-Israel meetings at the level of Foreign Ministers three times a year, with each EU presidency able to invite the Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry to meetings of the political and security committee.
The EU would also consider inviting Israel to take part in the civilian missions linked to its security and defence policy, the statement added.
The process of upgrading EU’s relations with Israel is one of the priorities of the Czech Republic when it takes over the EU presidency from France on January 1.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told reporters on Monday that the ugpgrading of relations with Israel "is also in the interest of the Palestinians."
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told a press conference after chairing the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers that upgrading EU’s relations with Palestine would follow.
"But it is a little more difficult with the Palestinians, because there is no state, so it will be more complicated."
He said the 27 ministers sent a document to US President-elect Barack Obama and to the members of his government asking them "to be involved in the Annapolis process without waiting."