Israel-European ties depend on outcome of peace talks, EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faarborg-Andersen said ahead of EP President Martin Schulz's speech in the Knesset on Wednesday.
"Israel is an important partner of the European Union and the Middle East peace process is one of the EU`s foreign policy priorities, and therefore a visit to Israel is almost a must for every European Parliament president,” Faaborg-Andersen said.
Schulz is scheduled to address the Knesset Wednesday afternoon and meet with President Shimon Peres and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
The ambassador said in an interview for the Knesset's website that the EU is "very keen" to strengthen ties with Israel and bring them to the same level as European non-EU countries like Norway or Switzerland, but that "because of the vital importance that the international community attaches to [negotiations with the Palestinians], this depends to a large degree on the success of that process.”
The EU envoy recounted that in December, EU Foreign Ministers declared that, should a final peace agreement be reached, they would offer Israel a Special Privileged Partnership, which would involve increased access to European markets, cultural and scientific links, political dialogue, security cooperation and more.
According to Faaborg-Andersen, "every Israeli would benefit enormously," from the upgrade in relations.
”The failure of negotiations, particularly if it would be ascribed to continued settlement construction, would not make it possible for EU-Israel relations achieve their full potential and carries the risk of Israel becoming increasingly isolated,” he added.
Still, Faaborg-Andersen stated that "despite the gloom and doom that one encounters in the media, EU-Israel relations are, in fact, extraordinarily strong."
The envoy added that the EU has a more developed relationship with Israel than any other non-European country.
Faaborg-Andersen pointed out that Israel in the EU cooperate in myriad areas, using the recently-launched Horizon 2020 research and development program as a prime example.