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Post-Brussels meeting, Israel-EU summit in works, slated for Jerusalem

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen patches up relations with his E.U. counterpart Josep Borrell, who “condemned recent terrorist and rocket attacks against Israelis.”

Israel Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, left, meets with European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell in Brussels on May 2, 2023. Source: Twitter via MFA.
Israel Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, left, meets with European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell in Brussels on May 2, 2023. Source: Twitter via MFA.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met with his European Union counterpart Josep Borrell in Brussels on Tuesday with the two reconciling their recently thorny relations.

The talks lasted for more than two-and-half hours, including a one-on-one exchange of more than an hour. Following the meeting, Cohen boasted that “Israel is opening a new page in its relations with the E.U.” He then declared: “We decided to hold an E.U.-Israel summit this year, and we plan to host it in Jerusalem.”

Cohen was referring to a planned meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council, which the foreign ministry said would likely take place in Israel’s capital city.

“Holding the Association Council as the highest institutional level of bilateral dialogue is important not just to continue strengthening E.U.-Israel relationship but also because of the importance of cooperation to face global challenges, among them Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, or Iran’s regional role,” Borrell’s office said in a statement.

Borrell also “condemned recent terrorist and rocket attacks against Israelis, and underlined the E.U.’s commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself,” his office said.

For his part, Cohen urged the E.U. foreign-policy chief to condemn the Palestinian Authority’s “pay-for-slay” policy in which it pays monthly stipends to terrorists and the families of slain terrorists. He also emphasized the importance of stopping Iran’s nuclear program and imposing sanctions on the regime in Tehran.

“This is the time to stop a nuclear Iran,” said Cohen.

Cohen met omn Tuesday with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola and European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas.

In March, Cohen sharply criticized Borrell for equating Palestinian terrorist attacks with operations undertaken by the Israel Defense Forces.

The rebuke came after Borrell wrote in an article on the news commentary site Project Syndicate that “violence on the part of Israeli settlers in the West Bank is increasingly threatening Palestinian lives and livelihoods—almost always with impunity. Moreover, Israeli military operations frequently cause civilian Palestinian deaths, often without effective accountability; illegal settlements are expanding on occupied land; and the delicate status quo concerning Holy Sites is eroding.”

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