By Jonathan Benedek/TPS
Jerusalem (TPS) – President Reuven Rivlin said that current European Union (EU) efforts to bring about a final arrangement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority should not overshadow the importance of bilateral ties between Israel and the EU, following a meeting in Brussels with President of the European Council Donald Tusk.
“The advancement of peace in the Middle East is a vital interest for Israel,” emphasized Rivlin. “At the same time, I believe that the bilateral relations between us can grow and develop independently.”
The Israeli president, who met with Tusk as part of a several day tour throughout Europe in which he is scheduled to meet with dignitaries of Belgium, the EU and NATO, viewed the Israeli-EU relationship as having great prospects of success.
“This is my first visit to the institutions of the EU as president of the State of Israel, and I see it as a sign of the great importance of relations between Israel and the European Union,” said Rivlin.
“The EU is an integral partner with Israel in the fields of trade, science, environment and culture,” he continued.
Rivlin also claimed that Israel’s ties with Europe were founded on common values.
‘We share the fundamental values of democracy, freedom of expression, liberalism and human dignity,” Rivlin added. “These values are a solid basis on which to expand cooperation in other areas.”
President Tusk concurred with Rivlin. “We share many values and join forces together on a variety of issues,” Tusk said. “There is a deep partnership between the EU and Israel.”
Tusk touched on the need for the continued partnership between Israel and the EU in the battle against terrorism.
“I expressed to the president my condolences on the recent terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, and we discussed ways to deepen our cooperation against terrorism,” Tusk said. “There is no better place than Brussels to discuss this issue today.”
The European Council president added that a peaceful resolution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is of vital importance to the European Union.
“A sustainable peace is a very high priority for the European Community,” Tusk stressed. “The EU is ready to support peace with unprecedented assistance and cooperation with both sides.”TPS / Tazpit News Agency