In an unprecedented move, over 100 parliamentarians from Europe and Israel—including Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid and Knesset member Zvi Hauser, who chairs the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee—have sent a joint letter to E.U. Foreign Minister Josep Borrell calling on the European Union to renew ministerial-level dialogue with Israel.

The E.U.-Israel Association Council is a framework that facilitates cooperation between Israel and the European Union in a number of fields. The parliamentarians who sent the letter expressed concern that the council had not convened, despite the emergence of urgent issues, such as the coronavirus pandemic.

The signatories to the letter are urging Borrell to take immediate steps to relaunch the activity of the council, in honor of the 25th anniversary of its formation, which falls in July. The E.U. establishment froze dialogue at that rank eight years ago in protest over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and the lack of progress in the peace process.

According to the letter, the European Union has not updated its 2015 “neighbor policy” for Israel, despite having done so for Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia.

“Renewed dialogue and consultation between the E.U. and Israel is necessary because of new challenges, such as the coronavirus pandemic, the ongoing dangerous tensions in the Middle East, and the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe,” the letter reads.

The missive also notes that the Israeli election and the subsequent formation of a unity government constitute an opportunity to restart political dialogue at the highest level.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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