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Photo by: Courtesy European Parliament
President of European Parliament to address Knesset plenum Wednesday
By LAHAV HARKOV
12/02/2014
EU ambassador: Relations with Israel can only reach potential if peace agreement is reached with Palestinians.
 
Israel-European ties depend on the outcome of peace talks with the PLO, EU Ambassador Lars Faarborg-Andersen said ahead of European Parliament 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 on Tuesday.

Schulz is scheduled to address the Knesset on Wednesday afternoon and meet with President Shimon Peres and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. On Tuesday, Schulz met with the Knesset Caucus to solve the Israeli-Arab Conflict, led by MK Hilik Bar (Labor).

The EU is “very keen” to strengthen ties with Israel and bring them to the same level as with European non- EU countries such as Norway and Switzerland, but “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 ambassador said, in an interview with the Knesset’s website.

Faaborg-Andersen said 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 him, “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 to achieve their full potential and carries the risk of Israel becoming increasingly isolated,” he said.

Still, Faaborg-Andersen said 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 with any other non-European country.
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