The foreign minister pointed out that Iran backs Hezbollah north of Israel and Hamas in Gaza, to Israel’s South.
“Something good is happening between us and the moderates in the Arab world,” he said. “I want to broaden the circle of peace to additional states.”
Israel would like that circle to include the Palestinians, Lapid said, expressing support for a two-state solution.“Unfortunately, there is no possibility at the moment,” he said. “There is one thing we need to remember. If there will be a Palestinian state, it needs to be a peace-seeking democracy... You cannot ask us to build with our own hands another threat to our lives.” We can ensure that steps taken now do not prevent peace in the future and will improve the Palestinians’ lives, Lapid said, adding that he is in favor of “everything humanitarian… everything that builds the Palestinian economy.”Among Lapid’s goals for the visit were to push for the Israel-EU Association Council to reconvene. The Association Council is meant to ensure dialogue and improved ties between the parties. It has not met since 2012, with some member states blocking it in protest over Operation Protective Edge in 2014, then settlements and other policies toward the Palestinians. Borrell has been in favor of restarting it for nearly a year.
Lapid also seeks to advance new Israel-EU partnerships, such as having Israel join the €1.46 billion Euro Creative Europe culture and arts program, EuroPol for policing and security and ensuring that negotiations over Horizon Europe, the scientific research program Israel has long participated in, go well.The foreign minister received positive responses to inquiries about the partnerships and plans to take concrete action toward forging them. Lapid met with Borrell one-on-one on Sunday, and they discussed EU-Israel bilateral ties. The Foreign Ministry’s statement on the meeting emphasized talks about economic ties.
“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 said. They also spoke about “how the dialogue with the Palestinians can be moved forward.” Lapid then met with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag and Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek.
Lapid met with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of his meeting with the FAC and invited him to visit Israel.
Israel seeks to deepen its cooperation with NATO in intelligence, cybersecurity, missile defense and other areas, Lapid said. Israel and NATO share values and a view of broad challenges and threats, he told Stoltenberg