ECI welcomes EU-Israeli rapprochement

ECI welcomes EU-Israeli rapprochement but warns of religious extremism which fuels calls for new boycotts of Israel

Brussels, March 10th, 2016 - ECI announced on Thursday its next Annual Policy Conference which will take place in Brussels on April 21. The aim of the conference is to promote closer EU-Israeli cooperation at a time when both sides are seeking to rebuild relations after a disruptive period of diplomatic conflict.

EU-Israeli relations hit an all time low in November 2015 after the EU issued an "EU Interpretative Notice on Labelling of Goods from the territories administered by Israel since 1967". The notice was however renounced by the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz as “counterproductive” as it leads to higher unemployment among Palestinians.

In early February the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resolve differences and tensions over the notice and declared that the EU is seeking good and close relations with Israel. Mogherini further clarified that the EU labelling notice is without prejudice and does not in any way pre-determine the future borders in a final peace agreement, which can only come through direct negotiations between the two parties.

She also affirmed that the EU opposes any boycotting of Israel, thus echoing similar statements made by the British government, the French High Court, as well as the Canadian Parliament last month, which have all spoken out against calls for new boycotts against Israel.

In a statement on Thursday, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell applauded the EU initiative to repair relations with Israel as well as the moral leadership of British Prime Minister David Cameron and other European leaders who have publicly spoken out against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement and its call for boycotts and diplomatic isolation of Israel.

“At the same time, extreme political and religious organisations around the world continue to demonize Israel and call for new boycotts, separating Israelis from Palestinians instead of bringing them closer together in joint projects and closer cooperation”, Sandell said. Earlier this week, at an extraordinary summit of the 57 member-strong Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), calls were made for an intensified economic war against Israel.

ECI was founded in Brussels in 2003 as a Christian initiative to address the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. Today ECI works together with a wide range of Christian groups and denominations to foster good relations between Europe and Israel and to address the latest expression of anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere, which includes calls for boycotts and the isolation of Israel as well as the demonization of the Jewish state. The ECI Annual Policy Conference will take place in Brussels on April 21, 2016.