Israel: Ties With EU Mended in Netanyahu-Mogherini Call

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -
EU headquarters in Straassbourg. (Pixabay)
EU headquarters in Strasbourg. (Pixabay)

Israel said on Friday it had resolved its differences with the European Union after weeks of diplomatic tension following an EU decision not to allow goods produced in Jewish communities in Yehudah and Shomron to be labeled “Made in Israel.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke by phone with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said.

The two “agreed that relations between the two sides should be conducted in an atmosphere of confidence and mutual respect,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said that Israel would no longer insist on the exclusion of EU bodies from peace talks with the Palestinians over a two-state solution to the Middle East peace process.

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in April 2014 and there have been no signs of them resuming.

While the United States has traditionally played the lead role in peace efforts in the region, the EU is Israel’s largest trading partner and is the biggest donor to the Palestinians, and is looking to play a larger role in peace negotiations.

“The conversation resolved the tensions and we are, Israel and the EU, back to good and close relations,” Nachshon said in a text message to the media.

In November, the EU said that goods produced in Yehudah and Shomron could not be labeled “Made in Israel” and should be marked as coming from areas which the EU considers illegal under international law.

After the guidelines were published, Israel suspended contact with EU bodies involved in peace efforts with the Palestinians, although the government said bilateral ties with nearly all EU countries remained strong.

Nachshon said Mogherini had expressed solidarity with Israel at a time of heightened Palestinian violence and had strongly opposed attempts by various groups to boycott Israel.