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The American Jewish Committee (AJC) Transatlantic Institute on Monday welcome the open letter signed by 158 Members of the European Parliament from six political groups, urging the European Union (EU) to finally reconvene the Association Council with Israel again after 10 years.

The letter was published Monday and spearheaded by MEP Antonio López-Istúriz White, Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Israel, and signed by 36 members of the AJC-backed Transatlantic Friends of Israel.

The EU-Israel Association Council, which is supposed to take place annually, was last held in 2012. The open letter calls on the Commission to now set a date, as “Democracies like Europe and Israel should come closer together,” the letter reads.

AJC has long urged lawmakers and diplomats to resume the Association Council with Israel.

“We hope that this open letter, which showed wide-ranging support for resuming the Association Council across the political spectrum, will encourage the European Commission to finally set a date for the next meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Brussels-based EU Office, the AJC Transatlantic Institute.

“It is simply unfathomable that the Association Council with Israel, the only true democracy in the region, hasn’t been convened in a decade. This is even more astounding as deepening the strategic relationship with the Jewish state, a powerhouse in innovation and technology, would greatly benefit European citizens, helping the Continent to meet global challenges ranging from energy to food security and tackling climate change,” Schwammenthal continued.

The open letter similarly addresses how closer EU-Israeli ties would be of mutual benefit, noting: “Our relationship can be of great value in the face of mounting challenges. Reconvening the Association Council is the single most important step we can take, and time is of the essence.”

Israel and the EU signed an Association Agreement in 1995, which established the legal framework for the bilateral relations. The Association Agreement was ratified in 2000 and foresees annual meetings at the ministerial level.

In 2020, European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi stated his support for reconvening the Association Council. During her visit to Israel last month, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen underlined the importance to deepen bilateral ties, based on shared values and history, to tackle global challenges. Earlier this year Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde declared that there was broad support among EU foreign ministers for resuming the Council.