Tag Archives: Yair Lapid

Commissioner Schinas fight against antisemitism

Strasbourg 06.10.2021 “I am not breaking any news when I say that antisemitism and Holocaust are a stain in Europe’s history. It is the darkest chapter in our history book. Other than the historical reasons, there is an increasing and worrying tendency of anti-Semitic attacks and sentiments across the EU” said the Commissioner Margaritis Schinas, coordinating the Commission’s work on a New Pact on Migration and Asylum, while addressing press in European Parliament, Strasbourg.

“Two years ago, on 9 October 2019, a gunman tried to enter the synagogue in Halle, Germany, during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur – their holiest day of the year. After failing to breach the security door to the building – with 51 people inside at the time – he opened fire in the streets, fatally shooting two of our fellow citizens.

“It was not the only attack. We had previous attacks in Paris, Copenhagen, and in Brussels in the Jewish Museum.

“Antisemitism continues not only to be a burden of the past, but also a present, dreadful threat in today’s Europe.

“The Commission vowed at that moment to act. And today’s strategy is the first ever of its kind to deliver a clear commitment and comprehensive response in our fight against antisemitism.

“Last year marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where I represented the Commission together with Vice-President Věra Jourová.

“One of the things we took away from this anniversary is that we have now: fewer and fewer survivors remaining amongst us. We cannot have the people who went through these horrors to share their first-hand accounts of the Holocaust.

“I am myself native of the city of Thessaloniki, where I grew up. It was “madre de Israel”, which was the biggest Jewish community in Europe with over 50,000 Sephardic Jews that were all murdered by Nazi troops, most of them in Auschwitz by the way.

“Preserving their legacy, ensuring that their stories remain alive and are accurately retold, finding new forms of remembrance is a responsibility that our generation now has to live up to – and a key component of this strategy.

“We also saw during the Covid-19 pandemic and successive confinements a resurgence of centuries-old conspiracy myths fuelling new forms of antisemitism online and an explosion of antisemitic online content: only in French language we have a seven-fold increase in antisemitic postings on social media accounts, and over a thirteen-fold increase in German language accounts.
“Beyond the online realities, our own research, mainly through Eurobarometer and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, shows even more worrying trends with nine out of ten Jews considering that antisemitism has increased in their country.

“Very worryingly 38% have considered emigrating because they do not feel safe as Jews in today’s European Union. All these are factors, elements and root causes that compel us to act. What we are putting today on the table in the Strategy is not only a reactive and protective shield for our Jewish communities, but it is also very proactive approach that would allow Jewish life to thrive in our societies. So it is not a defensive approach but very proactive approach to foster Jewish life in the EU.

“This response is structured around three pillars:
– Preventing and combating
– Protecting and fostering
– Educating and researching.
Let me take you very briefly into these three families of issues. I will only focus on the new things of interest.

On preventing and combating all forms of antisemitism: We aim to establish a Europe-wide network of trusted flaggers and fact-checkers, including Jewish organisations, so that we can step up the removal of illegal online hate speech and counter these narratives with effective rebuttals.

We will also cooperate with industry and IT companies to prevent the illegal displaying and selling of Nazi-related symbols, memorabilia and literature online.

On the second leg, on protecting and fostering Jewish life: I think the first priority there is the security of the Jewish communities. I do not want to see synagogues in Europe being guarded by police. We all know that most Jewish communities and civil society organisations have had to assume disproportionately themselves the costs of their own security. We are determined to assume this as a major public service initiative. We will work with Member States to improve that and will support through increased EU funding for projects aiming to better protect public spaces and places of worship. The next call for proposals will be published next year for an amount to 24 million euros.

We also want not only to protect, but to allow Jewish life to flourish as part of an inclusive and diverse EU. Despite the long-standing presence of Jews in Europe, people have remarkable little knowledge of Jewish life, traditions and Judaism. So we want to work closely with the Jewish communities to safeguard Jewish heritage, raise awareness and increase mutual understanding around Jewish life.

Finally, on educating, researching and the holocaust remembrance, which is the third key component of the strategy, we will support the training of educational professionals and policy makers on “addressing antisemitism through education. We will work much closer together with UNESCO and the OSCE to make this possible.

“We are also setting up a new network of Young European Ambassadors to promote Holocaust remembrance.

“We will support, this is another new idea, the EU funding to create a network of places “Where the Holocaust happened” in Europe. I am not referring only to the extermination camps but also to often unknown Jewish heritage sites, hiding places, or deportation points that are all over Europe and that our societies need to know of. Our aim would be to allow school students, practitioners and the general public to trace the continuity of Jewish presence in Europe over the centuries – facilitating visits, online and interactive learning.

“We also intend to invest significantly in research to fully understand contemporary antisemitism and the impact it has on Jewish life today. We have already supported the creation of the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure with 25 million euros since 2010 but now we will propose the creation of a European research hub on contemporary antisemitism and Jewish life to strengthen multidisciplinary research across the EU.

“Finally, the EU will not be alone in this effort. We shall reaffirm our ambition to take the lead in the global fight against antisemitism, by stepping up our external action with international community, UN agencies, an partners across the world

“We will do that by supporting actions aimed at combating antisemitism worldwide and our EU external funds will not be misallocated to activities that incite hatred and violence, including against Jewish people.

“We want to reach out to all citizens. Antisemitism is not a problem of the Jews, but of the problem of the antisemites.

Fighting it is a responsibility for all of us.

“I want to be very clear, antisemitism is incompatible with everything that the European Union stands for. It is incompatible with human rights, with our values and with our way of life. In this strategy today, we push for a commitment to combat it in all its forms and to ensure a future for Jewish life in Europe.

“We owe it to those who perished in the Holocaust, we owe it to the survivors and we owe it also to the future generations.

“For Jewish citizens, Europe was a place their parents and grandparents had to flee. It is our duty to ensure that for their children and grandchildren it is a place where they are proud to belong”.

“I congratulate the European Union for presenting the comprehensive strategy for combating anti-Semitism and strengthening Jewish life in Europe.
This decision reflects a commitment not only to tackling the phenomenon of ugly anti-Semitism, but also to the safety of Jewish communities” wrote Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel Jair Lapid on his Twitter micro blog, reacting upon the announcement of the European Commission.

EU-Israel constructive exchange

Brussels 12.07.2021 “We had a discussion over lunch with the new Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid. You know that the European Union and Israel share deep political, historical and cultural ties” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said at the press-conference in Brussels, concluding the EU Council of Foreign ministers.

“We had a friendly, open and constructive exchange on our bilateral relations, but also on the situation in the region – especially related to the [Middle East] Peace Process and the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran nuclear deal] negotiations”.

“The fact that [Foreign] Minister Lapid decided to follow up on my invitation to attend todays’ meeting, and with this to allow for an exchange with the new administration, shows that we have a chance for a fresh start and for strengthening our bilateral relations. But, these bilateral relations are also conditioned to many issues in which we have differences. And the proof is that the Association Agreement meetings have been cancelled since 2012, [as far as] I remember. It is quite a long time, almost 10 years”.

“We discussed also the Middle East Peace Process. Here I want to stress very clearly that Israel’s security is non-negotiable. We stand firmly for Israel’s security and condemn terrorism, but at the same time, we expect Israel to offer a political perspective to end the conflict. To find a solution with the Palestinians can only contribute to Israel’s security and we have a Foreign Minister from Israel that has publicly been advocating in favour of the ‘two-state solution’ – which is the solution that we, European Union, are strongly supporting”.

“A credible engagement, a stronger relationship with Israel needs to revive a path towards peace and justice for Israelis and Palestinians both alike. We remain ready and willing to support both in the efforts to rebuild a meaningful political process. We know that this is not going to be for tomorrow, we know the special composition of the Israeli government, but we have been very interested in listening the explanations of the Foreign Minister and his good will in order to improve the everyday life of the Palestinians and to advance in cooperation and working together towards resuming the holding of Association Council meetings if the conditions are met”.

“For this, we need, on one hand, to reach a consensus among Member States and, on the other hand, Israel has also to do its part”.

Borrell concludes EU DIPLOMATS Council

Brussels 12.07.2021 “We started today’s Foreign Affairs Council with a discussion on the external and geopolitical impact of the new digital technologies. These technologies are crucial for our societies and economies. They are becoming an object and a driver of geopolitical competition and global influence. Certainly, global actors are using these new technologies to manipulate the information environment, to influence our public debates and to interfere in our democratic processes” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, concluding the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.

As European Union, we need to use our unique capacity as regulatory power, setting global norms and standards to maintain an open system, centred on the rule of law. We want to work together with partners from the United States to the Indo-Pacific, Africa and Latin America.

We agreed with the European External Action Service and the European Commission to continue our work on structuring a coherent digital external policy. For sure, in the months to come we are going to go back to this very much important issue and in order to be prepared for that, at the European External Action Service, we have created a new division to deal with the connectivity and digital transformation issues.

Also, for the first time, the Foreign Ministers discussed the Strategic Compass. It is something that the Ministers of Defence have been involved in on several occasions and will continue being involved in the next informal meeting in September, but today the Foreign Ministers – at their request – have been involved in the discussion about: how to better prepare for future crises; how to reinforce our resilience against threats, for example in the cyber space; how to reinforce our partnerships to meet common challenges; and how to develop a common strategic culture.

I presented to the Ministers the schedule in order to be able, by November, to present a first draft and, by March [next year], to adopt the Strategic Compass. I think that it is a very important initiative. I do not care if it is controversial, I prefer to have controversies [rather] than indifferences and I think that the Foreign Ministers took stock of the importance of this project. Let us hope that by November the Ministers will have a full draft of the Strategic Compass.

Talking about defence and security issues, today we formally established, in a record time, the new European Training Mission for Mozambique. This is the second Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission that is being created during my mandate.

It has been done in a record time, in European terms ‘record time’ does not mean very quickly, but it has been done quicker than in any other mission.

The new mission will be a fundamental part of our response to the government of Mozambique’s request to address the crisis in Cabo Delgado, in the northern part of the country, and to contribute to reinforce and re-establish security.

This mission will train selected Mozambican units to help the armed forces in their efforts to bring back safety and security. This commitment now needs to be properly resourced and accompanied by the adequate assistance measures. So, I have been asking the Member States, once the mission has been agreed, to bring, to provide the means, the staff that this mission will require. It is not going to be a big mission, like the one that we have in Mali, but it is important that the people who will go to Mozambique to train Mozambican units will be highly qualified military elements.

We had a discussion over lunch with the new Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid. You know that the European Union and Israel share deep political, historical and cultural ties.

We had a friendly, open and constructive exchange on our bilateral relations, but also on the situation in the region – especially related to the [Middle East] Peace Process and the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran nuclear deal] negotiations.

The fact that [Foreign] Minister Lapid decided to follow up on my invitation to attend todays’ meeting, and with this to allow for an exchange with the new administration, shows that we have a chance for a fresh start and for strengthening our bilateral relations. But, these bilateral relations are also conditioned to many issues in which we have differences. And the proof is that the Association Agreement meetings have been cancelled since 2012, [as far as] I remember. It is quite a long time, almost 10 years.

We discussed also the Middle East Peace Process. Here I want to stress very clearly that Israel’s security is non-negotiable. We stand firmly for Israel’s security and condemn terrorism, but at the same time, we expect Israel to offer a political perspective to end the conflict. To find a solution with the Palestinians can only contribute to Israel’s security and we have a Foreign Minister from Israel that has publicly been advocating in favour of the ‘two-state solution’ – which is the solution that we, European Union, are strongly supporting.

A credible engagement, a stronger relationship with Israel needs to revive a path towards peace and justice for Israelis and Palestinians both alike. We remain ready and willing to support both in the efforts to rebuild a meaningful political process. We know that this is not going to be for tomorrow, we know the special composition of the Israeli government, but we have been very interested in listening the explanations of the Foreign Minister and his good will in order to improve the everyday life of the Palestinians and to advance in cooperation and working together towards resuming the holding of Association Council meetings if the conditions are met.

For this, we need, on one hand, to reach a consensus among Member States and, on the other hand, Israel has also to do its part.

After a long discussion with the Foreign Affairs Minister of the new Israeli government, we went to the discussion on Ethiopia.

You know that the situation in the Tigray region has never been as bad, despite of the ceasefire announced by the government of Ethiopia. What we are seeing in Tigray, what we are afraid Trigay is going to suffer, is a serious humanitarian crisis, with almost 1 million [people] – 850,000 [people] at risk of famine, and ongoing use of violence against civilians and rape as a weapon of war. The ceasefire is a positive step, but what is happening today is that the Tigray region is being cut-off from the rest of the world by destroying critical infrastructure of transportation, and this, as I said, could bring to the region the risk of mass famine.

We, at the European Union, the Commission, will organise an [humanitarian] air bridge to try to bring support to the region, but you can imagine that we cannot solve the problem of a famine affecting 850,000 people. It is something that is out of our capability, it will require the mobilisation – for this almost 1 million people, 850,000 people – of the United Nations agencies, and to ensure humanitarian access. We are ready to support the population, but we call on the Member States to provide donations as a clear sign of European Union solidarity.

[We should focus on these priorities:] To consolidate the ceasefire, the withdrawal of foreign forces from Ethiopian territory. To stop Human Rights violations. And to launch a reconciliation and national dialogue in order to preserve the integrity and political unity of Ethiopia, which remains a clear strategic objective.

Finally, we should be ready to use restrictive measures where we believe they are justified and necessary in advancing these goals. I believe that the situation in Ethiopia would certainly require that we consider this possibility along all options at our disposal. This option, the option of restrictive measures – to my understanding – must be on the table.

With ministers, we also addressed the situation in Afghanistan. The fighting is having a grave impact on civilians. The number of civilian casualties has grown 23% in the first semester of this year. We condemn the increasing targeted attacks against the Hazara community and other religious and ethnic groups.

The Ministers have unanimously urged the Taliban to engage in substantive and inclusive peace negotiations. We also call on countries of the region and the broader international community to play a constructive role in support of the Afghan peace process. I will be reaching out to many of the regional actors in the conference I will be attending in Tashkent, in Uzbekistan(link is external), in the coming days, where we expect the attendance of the President of Afghanistan.

On Lebanon, it seems to me that Europeans are more concerned with the search for a political solution to the country than the Lebanese politicians themselves, which is quite strange. After my visit to Lebanon, the political stalemate persists, the economy is imploding and the suffering of the people of Lebanon is continuously growing. They need to have a Lebanese government in order to avoid a crackdown of the country, fully able to implement the reforms and protect its population. This is in the interest of the Lebanese people, from all confessions and political orientations.

The Ministers reached a political understanding that a sanctions regime against those who are responsible for the situation should be established. In light of the preparatory technical work, the legal acts will be worked on and a decision will be adopted by the Council in order to create this new sanctions regime without delay. I can say that the objective is to complete this by the end of the month. I am not talking about the implementation of the regime, just the building of the regime according with sound legal basis.

On Belarus, the repression by the regime continues. Over the last few weeks, we have seen large-scale bulldozing of the independent media.

We have expressed our full solidarity with Lithuania on the expulsion of their diplomatic staff. We are following closely the situation at the Lithuania-Belarus border, where there are reports that the regime is now sending migrants to the Polish border too.

We call on Belarusian authorities to stick to their international commitments and obligations. We took already a number of restrictive measures and we are ready to consider further response to this behaviour. To use migrants as a weapon, pushing people to the borders is unacceptable and that is what is happening in the Lithuanian and Polish borders.

Finally, Cyprus. We are concerned about developments on the ground in Varosha. The European Union, through the President of the Commission [Ursula von der Leyen] and the President of the European Council [Charles Michel] has repeatedly reaffirmed the status of Varosha and called for the Turkish authorities not to create a situation, which could be against the United Nations decisions. The status of Varosha is set out in relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and it is important, as the two Presidents have directly addressed to the highest authorities in Turkey, to refrain from provocative actions.

Our priority is to focus on getting the Cyprus settlement talks [to restart], that is what we are working on, trying to avoid any kind of trouble, trying to avoid to get trapped in a negative spiral again. Our wish is to work on the settlement of the Cyprus issue. The Ministers today also rejected the two-state solution in Cyprus and on that we are firmly united. Let us hope that we are not going to have, on the following days, reasons for the calling of an extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council”.

NATO receives ISRAEL Foreign Minister Lapid

Brussels 12.07.2021 Today NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met at NATO Headquarters with H.E. Yair Lapid, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Alternate Prime Minister of Israel. They discussed a range of issues related to NATO-Israel relations.

The Secretary General said that Israel is one of NATO’s most engaged and capable partners, and he pointed out that exchanges at the staff-to-staff and expert-level have continued, despite the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Israel has been an important partner to NATO for more than 20 years, as well as an active member of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue. NATO and Israel cooperate in different domains, including science and technology, civil emergencies preparedness and management, resilience, counter-terrorism, military medicine, countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and women, peace and security.

Secretary General Stoltenberg and Minister Lapid also shared views on the prospects for potential cooperation between NATO and Israel in other areas of shared interest, including climate change, defence innovation, and emerging and disruptive technologies. He also restressed Allies’ continued calls on Iran to uphold and fully implement all its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and its safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and refrain from all activities which are inconsistent with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231.

EU congratulates new Israel Prime Minister

Brussels 14.06.2021 The EU Council president Charles Michel congratulated Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on forming a government with Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid after it was sworn in earlier that evening, and expressed his wishes to further strengthen ties between the EU and Israel.

“…Looking forward to strengthen the EU-Israël partnership for common prosperity and towards lasting regional peace and stability” Michel wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

“Spoke to Yair Lapid to warmly congratulate him for his appointment” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell wrote.
“Discussed the importance of strengthening the bilateral EU-Israël partnership and promoting security and peace in the region. Looking forward to working together welcoming you soon in Brussels” the EU diplomat added.