Lapid works for ‘fresh start’ in Israel-EU relations

Lapid says he welcomes criticism but Europe must bear in mind that Israel is under threat from Iran and Hamas.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with the European Union’s top brass in Brussels on Monday, in what EU policy chief Josep Borrell called a “fresh start” for Israel-Europe relations.

Emphasizing his liberal background, Lapid said that Israel and the EU have a number of shared values, including “human rights, rights for the LGBT community, a commitment to the basic components of democracy – a free press, independent judiciary, a strong civil society and freedom of religion.”

“I believe in the life force of liberal democracy,” he said. “In their economic force. In the force of their ideas to create a better world. Optimism is political power. I want to work together on that, on the chance for a better future.”

After meeting with Lapid, Borrell told local media that “it’s important that the new Israeli government comes here to Brussels — it is an opportunity for a fresh start.

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

“They discussed the importance of enhancing EU-Israel relations and considered how to address together existing challenges in order to achieve this common goal,” an EU statement about the Lapid-Borrell meeting read.

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The two men also discussed “how the dialogue with the Palestinians can be moved forward.”

Lapid said that he welcomed European criticism around Israeli military policy as long as critics bear in mind the unique security challenges facing the Jewish State.

Addressing EU foreign ministers, Lapid said, “I accept that part of our dialogue is a moral judgment. I want to hear your opinions with an open mind.

“But it is not too much to expect that this dialogue will take into consideration that my home is under attack,” he said.

Calling Iran the “number one exporter of terrorism around the world,” Lapid said the Islamic Republic backs Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, posing a direct threat to Israel.

He added that he supports “everything humanitarian…everything that builds the Palestinian economy.”