EU convenes Association Council as Gaza boycotts spread

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A wave of campus occupations, and decisions by European universities to sever or review ties with Israel are threatening to undermine Israel’s integration into the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme, from which it has received hundreds of millions of euros. As more universities cut ties, the EU will discuss its association agreement with Israel, which underpins scientific relations.

More European universities have announced they will suspend ties with Israel over its military campaign in Gaza, as EU foreign ministers decided to convene a meeting of the Association Council that governs relations between the bloc and Israel.

The decision, made at a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 27 May, could be a first step towards the EU taking sanctions against Israel, although member states remain sharply divided over relations with the country. However, following the meeting on Monday, Ireland’s foreign minister Micheál Martin said, ‘For the first time at an EU meeting, in a real way I’ve seen significant discussion on sanctions.’

Pressure on Israel has increased since a ruling by the International Court of Justice condemning Israel’s assault on Rafah.

‘Since the court has issued its ruling [we have seen] an increase in the military activities, an increase in the bombing and an increase in the casualties of the civilian people,’ said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, also speaking after the Foreign Affairs Council meeting. Only last month, ministers had rejected convening the EU-Israel Association Council with Israel, he said.

Meetings of the EU-Israel Association Council are convened by member states when they want to discuss whether EU should do anything about its relations with Israel. There is no regular schedule, but meetings are arranged on an ad-hoc basis in cases of concern about breaches of international law.

The Association Council will discuss the situation in Gaza and whether Israel is fulfilling the human rights obligation enshrined in its association agreement with the EU, the long-standing document that underpins relations – including in science and technology.

But there’s no clarity yet on when it will meet, or whether scientific sanctions could be on the table if Israel is found not to be upholding its obligation.

Source and complete article: Science|Business ®