By Agnes Szucs
BRUSSELS (AA) – The European Union reiterated on Monday its “strong opposition” against Israel’s settlement policy and support for the two-state solution at the meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council.
Chaired by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern, the high-level meeting between the EU and Israel took place after 10 years of break.
The EU delegation reiterated “its strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and activities, including in and around East Jerusalem,” the bloc said in a statement issued after the talks.
“We are concerned about the continued tensions and violence on the ground, the continuation of unilateral measures such as settlement expansion,” Borrell told the Israeli delegation in his opening remarks.
He also drew attention to the violence that has led to the highest number of Palestinian deaths this year since 2007.
The EU delegation also warned that Israeli authorities should exercise “maximum efforts” to avoid putting children in harm’s way, and called for a “thorough investigation” of the circumstances leading to the death of Al Jazeera’s journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, according to the statement.
Borrell also appreciated that Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid showed “clear support” for the two-state solution at the opening session of the UN General Assembly in September.
During the talks, the EU delegation said it is of “utmost importance to restore a political horizon towards a two-state solution.”
They stressed that the bloc “strongly opposes all actions that undermine the viability of the two-state solution,” urging both the Israeli and Palestinian sides to move towards genuine negotiations.
The parties also discussed the economic and security consequences of Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine, trade relations, climate action, as well as regional foreign policy developments, including the situation in Iran, Syria, and Lebanon.