The European Community’s foreign ministers are ready to negotiate a new agreement that would upgrade Israel’s ties to the 12-nation body, diplomatic sources said in Brussels.
But, contrary to initial Israeli expectations, the formal mandate for such negotiations will be determined only later this month.
During a meeting Tuesday, the E.C. ministers agreed in principle to such an agreement. The formal mandate to upgrade Israel’s status with the E.C. will be given to the European Executive Commission at the foreign ministers’ meeting in two weeks.
Israel has had a trade agreement with the community since 1975.
In the last years, it has tried to elevate its status to gain better access to the European market, which is Israel’s main trade partner.
The E.C. has seemed more inclined toward Israel since the Sept. 13 signing of the Israel-Palestine Liberation Organization agreement.
During his first official visit to Brussels, earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin pleaded for a change in Israel’s status, to the kind enjoyed by members nations of the European Free Trade Association.
“What we want is to raise our agricultural quotas,” Rabin said. “It’s not financial aid that we are demanding from Europe.”
The new accord would extend the free-trade area to include services and would associate Israel in certain scientific research and development programs.
According to diplomatic sources, some E.C. members have been reluctant to give greater access to Israel’s farm products, and their reluctance has delayed any change in Israel’s status.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.