Netanyahu to be first Israeli premier to visit EU headquarters in 22 years

Netanyahu will stop at the EU headquarters while in Brussels, in what could be another attempt to improve ties between the two entities.

By: World Israel News Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit the European Union (EU) headquarters when he heads to Brussels next month, the first Israeli premier to do so in 22 years.

Netanyahu is expected to meet with the EU’s 28 foreign ministers at an informal breakfast prior to their monthly meeting on an invitation by Lithuania, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Netanyahu’s visit comes as tensions between Israel and the EU have risen over policy disagreements regarding the Middle East diplomatic process.

Commenting on this sticking point, Netanyahu said at the World Economic Forum in January 2016 that a number of Arab nations had a more realistic approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than many EU countries.

The EU-Israel Association Council, the main vehicle for joint ministerial dialogue, has not met since 2012.

No sitting Israeli prime minister has addressed a formal EU body. In 1995, Shimon Peres, who was foreign minister and served as acting prime minister, visited Brussels.

The visit “is extremely important because it is a unique occasion to meet 28 foreign ministers as well as the important actors of the EU in Brussels,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said, reported the Post.

Netanyahu will be able to “present Israel’s position with regard to the strategic challenges and issues that we face in the region,” Nahshon added.

“It is a unique occasion to strengthen and enhance the ties between Israel and the EU. I think that it is going to be one of the more important diplomatic rendezvouses for Israel,” he said.