Israel Signs Cooperation Deal With Europol 'That Doesn't Mention Settlements'

This is the first working arrangement signed between Europol and a non-EU country

Europol Executive Director Catherine De Bolle and Israeli Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich sign the cooperation agreement in the Hague.
Israeli Police Spokesperson's Office

Israel and the European Union signed an agreement on Tuesday on cooperation between the Israeli Police and Europol, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation. The agreement will allow Israel to exchange information on terrorism and serious crimes with the 28 European member nations in the organization. 

According to Israeli sources, the agreement does not include the “territorial limitation” that explicitly states it cannot be implemented in areas beyond Israel's 1967 lines. This is in contrast to the expected broader agreement with the organization, as negotiations continue between the sides. 

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich flew to The Hague on Tuesday to sign the agreement, which is technically called a “working arrangement” and not a final accord. 

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According to EU officials, the agreement does not include the exchange of information with personal or geographical characteristics whose source may be in the West Bank, which is the main topic of disagreement in negotiations for a broader accord. If such a final agreement is reached, it would have to be brought to a vote in the European Parliament, which since 2012 has excluded the settlements from any agreement with Israel.

In December 2017, the Israeli cabinet approved a different cooperation agreement with the EU that included a section excluding settlements from the project. The agreement, known by the acronym ENI CBC Med (which stands for “cross-border cooperation in the Mediterranean), awards tens of millions of euros in funding to ventures that entail cooperation with the 14 Mediterranean Basin countries that aren’t EU members. These include Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

All the relevant Israeli government ministries signed the document, including the Foreign Ministry, where Tzipi Hotovely is the deputy foreign minister, and the Justice Ministry, where Ayelet Shaked is justice minister. Both women are among the government's most outspoken supporters of the settlement enterprise.

A year earlier, Haaretz reported that Israel’s participation in a prior agreement with the EU pertaining to the Creative Europe culture and media program that included a similar territorial provision was scuttled at the last moment by Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev. In that case too, Netanyahu had also given his initial consent. In the end, Israeli cultural institutions and artists were unable to apply for grants from the program.

In contrast, in 2013 Israel signed the Horizons 2020 scientific cooperation agreement with the EU, albeit only after a political furor. Tzipi Livni, then a minister in charge of diplomacy, and the EU’s then-foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, reached a deal under which Israel’s objection to the territorial provision would be noted in the agreement.