The Israeli Mission to the European Union submitted on Friday a request to cut funding for 60 organizations and movements active in the countries of the Union and which support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
“These organizations receive large funding from the EU to support human rights and combat racism, but their activities focus on supporting boycotts and incitement against Israel and the Jewish people, and on pursuing anti-Semitic plans,” the Mission said in its statement.
It added that these actions violate EU laws and contradict the interests of cooperation and partnership among the peoples of the world.
The European Union announced on Thursday that it had invited Tel Aviv to the first Association Council meeting on Monday.
The last Association Council meeting was held in 2012 and further gatherings were paused after Israeli authorities objected to the EU’s position regarding West Bank settlements.
Diplomatic sources in Tel Aviv and Brussels said the Europeans are keen on opening a new chapter in relations with Israel, after 12 years of strained relations under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Last month, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell warmly welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s support for a peace agreement based on two states for two peoples, as underlined in his speech at the UN General Assembly.
The EU said the discussion at the Association Council meeting will focus on issues such as trade, climate change, energy, science and technology, culture, the respect for human rights and democratic principles, freedom of religion as well as the fight against anti-Semitism.
The EU statement noted that the Israeli delegation will be represented by Lapid, in addition to Borrell who will head up the European side during the gathering.
As soon as the EU announced its plan to hold the Association Council meeting, the aforementioned 60 organizations issued a statement criticizing Israel’s return to the partnership with the EU despite not changing its settlement policy.
They sent a letter to the EU presidency and its 27-member countries demanding that the meeting be cancelled. They also called for suspending the ongoing talks between the EU and Tel Aviv to supply Europe with gas extracted from Israeli wells in the Mediterranean.