Brussels-based Jewish groups have welcomed the European Parliament’s passage of the latest EU-Israel Euro-Mediterranean Aviation Agreement, despite efforts by some to delay the vote over West Bank annexation plans.
The agreement, which was first signed in 2013 and has already been ratified by national parliaments, lets Israeli aircraft fly directly into European airports, and likewise it lets European airlines land in Israel.
It passed with 437 yes votes, 147 abstentions and 102 no votes, with proponents saying this now “anchors Israel in the bloc’s aviation regulatory framework”.
Among those welcoming the news was the AJC Transatlantic Institute, whose EU director Daniel Schwammenthal said the agreement “benefits consumers, empowers job-creating businesses, and aligns environmental standards”. He added that it was “a good day for EU-Israel relations”.
However he said there was some concern that lawmakers from the Socialists, Greens, and left-wing GUE group sought to postpone the vote on the agreement in response to Israel’s planned annexation of large areas of the West Bank.
“Despite the ultimately favourable outcome, it’s disconcerting that some lawmakers wanted to misuse this purely technical agreement to settle political disagreements,” he said.
“Had they succeeded, it would have no doubt been viewed in Israel as a pre-emptive sanction and severely damaged the bilateral relationship. Fortunately, a majority of lawmakers opted for constructive engagement with the new Israeli government.”
The agreement also contains rules on competition, labour and social standards, protection of passenger rights, and environmental cooperation.