This over the liberalization of services between the EU and Israel and over the country's possible integration into the European Single Market
Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU external relations commissioner and European Neighbourhood Policy noted last week that the Gaza conflict was holding up bilateral trade negotiations over the liberalization of services between the EU and Israel and over the country's possible integration into the European Single Market.
Her statement came following a speech delivered by a spokesman for the EU Foreign Policy Chief, Javier Solana, who called "for an immediate ceasefire" and urged "everybody to exert maximum restraint". It called for an "unconditional halt" of Hamas rocket attacks and Israeli military action. It also asked for the delivery of food, medical aid and fuel to Gaza, the evacuation of the injured from Gaza, and the permission for humanitarian aid workers to enter the area.
At a meeting with Mediterranean journalists held in Brussels last week Ferrero-Waldner noted that "At the moment our focus is not on advancing our relations with Israel as planned, but on the question of what we can do to ensure a lasting cease-fire," she added "Our aims are to promote a humanitarian cease-fire and to sustain a durable cease-fire on conditions that the attacks on Israel stop and the weapons smuggling is halted”.
At the end of 2008, the EU commenced bilateral negotiations on liberalization ofservices with Israel. Israel has a major interest in the liberalization and mutual recognition of the financial services sector. The idea is for this sector to be included in a free trade agreement, and ultimately Israel's participation in the European Single Market for financial services. For this process, Israel will need to align legislation with EU norms and standards in areas such as public procurement, intellectual property, trade customs, transparency principles and regulatory issues as needed.