SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 4 August 2021, Wednesday |

EU seeks ‘fresh start’ with Israel as foreign policy chief Borrell holds talks

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday the bloc was hoping for a fresh start with Israel’s new government, as Foreign Minister Yair Lapid held talks in Brussels.

“It’s important that the new Israeli government comes here to Brussels — it is an opportunity for a fresh start,” Borrell said after meeting Lapid.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for us to restart our relations, which in the past were quite deteriorated.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas described the visit as a “good sign” and said the bloc was looking to resume meetings of the EU-Israel Association Council — last held in almost a decade ago — designed to improve ties between the two sides.

Lapid was to meet all EU 27 foreign ministers for joint talks.

The EU is eyeing greater cooperation with Israel after a disparate coalition — masterminded by centrist Lapid — came together last month to oust veteran right-wing leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

Relations were tense between Brussels and Netanyahu, who pushed to sideline the EU as a player in the volatile region.

But thorny issues remain as the EU is pushing for a resumption of the search for a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and seeking to broker the return of the United States to the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran.