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Brussels, 27 March 2014
ENP Country Report 2013 - Israel
The 2014 annual “Neighbourhood Package” consists of joint Communication (“Neighbourhood at the Crossroads”) and a set of country specific and regional reports. The report on Israel underlines key/main developments and reform efforts in 2013 and makes recommendations for the year to come.
The year 2013 was marked by progress in several areas of cooperation such as the signature of the Comprehensive Aviation agreement, the entry into force of the Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA) and reaching an agreement on the participation of Israel in Horizon 2020 research programme. However, important challenges remain concerning the protection of rights of minorities and Israel's responsibilities in the Occupied Territories.
The EU underlined its full backing for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in August 2013 and reiterated its support for a two state solution based on an agreement on all final status issues, offering a Special Privileged partnership to both parties in case of such an agreement.
Reforms initiated, carried out, or delayed during 2013 in the different areas of cooperation between the EU and Israel are described in the annual country report. Some of the issues reported deserve special attention.
Regarding domestic human rights issues, Israel reversed its 2012 decision and participated in the Universal Periodic Review under the UN Human Rights Council. While there was progress on the implementation of women's rights, additional efforts are needed to ensure the equality of all Israeli citizens, in particular as regard the rights of Arab minorities, including the Negev Bedouins. Irregular migration remained a serious challenge for Israel. Enforcement of the anti-infiltration law and the detention of migrants for criminal acts without trial provoked criticism from civil society and a ruling from the Supreme Court. Steps towards a regularisation of migrants and improvements to their health and welfare situation should be encouraged.
As regards Israeli responsibilities in the Occupied Territories, tension has increased in 2013, in the context of worrying developments on the ground, including increased settlement activity and demolitions in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. Despite some measures against settler violence and price-tag attacks, most of the cases relating to these issues continued to be closed without indictment. While there were periods of flexibility, heavy restrictions on movement and access to the Gaza Strip remained in place throughout 2013 and increased isolation as a result of this policy brought a deterioration of the economic and humanitarian situation. Sporadic rocket-fire from Gaza into southern Israel continued in 2013. Limited progress was made on decreasing the use of administrative detention of Palestinians, but its use and length are still excessive.
EU-Israel trade and economic relations are already well developed and are improving further. However, some issues remain open, including sanitary and phyto-sanitary matters and technical barriers to trade. An important development in 2013 was the signature of the comprehensive "Open skies" EU-Israel aviation agreement.
EU–Israel – BACKGROUND
The European Neighbourhood Policy governs the relations between the EU and Israel.
2000: EU-Israel Association Agreement entered into force
2005: EU-Israel Action Plan was approved.
2008: Launch of the Union for the Mediterranean.
FACTS AND FIGURES
2007-2010: The ENPI1 financial contribution for Israel was earmarked at EUR 8 million, initially divided into four yearly EUR 2 million instalments. This was reduced in 2009 to EUR 1.5 million, reflecting problems in absorption capacity by the Israeli government.
2011-2013: The European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) envelope for Israel under the National Indicative Programme (NIP) 2011-2013 has been earmarked at EUR 6 million. The NIP is geared towards supporting the achievement of key policy objectives, as outlined in the EU-Israel Action Plan, and pursues the approximation of Israeli norms and standards with those of the EU.
2012: Meetings of the EU-Israel Association Committee and EU-Israel Association Council.
2013: Signature of the EU-Israel Comprehensive Civil Aviation Agreement (“Open Skies”).
2013: the EU-Israel Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of industrial products (ACAA) entered into force.
For further information
For the Joint Communication check the EEAS website at http://eeas.europa.eu/enp/index_en.htm
Website of Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/fule/index_en.htm
Website of High Representative and Vice President of the European Commission, Catherine Ashton: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/ashton/index_en.htm
European Commission: European Neighbourhood Policy