Yair Lapid seeks to rehabilitate Israel-EU ties

Yair Lapid to meet EU members to 'restart' Israel-EU relations
2 min read
12 July, 2021
Yair Lapid is expected to announce Israel's intention to join the Creative Europe programme, which grants generous support to cultural initiatives but bars funding for projects in the illegal West Bank settlements.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid [Getty]

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will be a guest at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday, which will gather 26 European Union foreign ministers, in a bid to rehabilitate Israel's relations with Europe.

The foreign minister is expected to announce Israel's intention to join the Creative Europe programme, which grants generous support to cultural initiatives but bars funding for projects in the illegal West Bank settlements, occupied East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

With a budget of 2.4 billion euros for the years 2021 to 2027, Creative Europe will offer generous grants to artists, cultural schemes, films and literary projects.

Former Culture Minister Miri Regev had rejected joining the initiative in 2017 because of the clause.

In 2013, Bennett supported a parallel EU initiative covering science projects, Horizon 2020, even though it prohibited using its funds beyond Israel’s 1967 borders.

Lapid, who was invited by EU high representative for foreign affairs Josep Borrell, is expected to promote the resumption of an Israeli-European dialogue as part of the Association Council, which regulates Israeli-European partnerships in areas such as commerce and foreign policy.

The council has not held a meeting since 2012 due to a dispute between the two sides. In 2013, Israel cancelled the annual meeting to protest EU instructions excluding territories beyond its 1967 borders from all Israel-EU agreements. 

Israel captured the West Bank along with East Jerusalem in the 1967 war. 

Today, some 500,000 Israeli Jews live in West Bank settlements, in addition to roughly 200,000 settlers in East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians claim all three territories for a future independent state. The international community widely considers the settlements illegal and obstacles to peace.

Last month, the UN slammed Israel for flagrantly violating international law by expanding settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, saying settlements are illegal and urging the country's new government to halt their enlargement immediately.