Israel and the European Union signed an intelligence-sharing agreement on Wednesday, which will enable Israeli police to share and receive intelligence in real time with Europol, the E.U. Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation.
“As crime and terrorism reach an unprecedented level worldwide, it was important to finalize the drawn-out negotiations to strengthen the cooperation between the agencies,” said Israel’s Public Security Minister Omer Barlev.
The agreement prioritizes the exchange of information about serious crime and terrorism.
Israel’s Ambassador to the E.U. Haim Regev wrote on social media that he was happy with ending the negotiations.
“Marking another milestone in strengthening the cooperation between Israel and the E.U. in combating crime and terrorism while safeguarding the right to privacy,” Regev wrote.
Barlev said in a statement that the agreement will strengthen the capabilities of Israel’s police force.
“The enemy in front of us has become elusive, sophisticated and increasingly bankrolled. This agreement will strengthen the Israel Police and the Public Security Ministry’s capabilities,” continued Barlev.
In 2018, Israel and Europol signed a “working arrangement,” the first ever to be signed between Europol and a non-E.U. country. The agreement, or working arrangement, focused on expanding cooperation between Israel and the E.U. in fighting cross-border criminal activity.
“Aware of the urgent problems arising from international cross-border organised crime, the agreement allows for the exchange of strategic information and the joint planning of operational activities,” Europol said in a press release in 2018.
“After entry into force of the agreement, this new level of cooperation will be important for tackling priority crime areas affecting both the European Union and Israel, such as fraud, cybercrime and terrorism,” the press release said. “Investigations in the E.U. have occasionally established links to Israel in the field of financial crime. As Europol supports E.U. Member States in identifying cross-border links, the Israeli contribution in such cases continues to be of utmost importance.”
Europol’s executive director, Catherine De Bolle, said the agreement would enhance the European-Israeli relationship.
“The arrangement will multiply contacts at all levels and open doors to closer cooperation, making the European Union and Israel safer,” De Bolle said.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has invested in Israel’s relationship with the E.U., making it a priority for the Jewish state to establish more cooperation agreements with the organization.
One of Lapid’s goals was for Israel to join the E.U.’s Creative Europe project. Israel did so in June, despite the project excluding participation by Jewish communities that are located in Judea and Samaria, which drew anger and accusations of discrimination from the community leaders.
The Creative Europe project facilitates cultural and artistic cooperation between the artists from the participating countries.
The “E.U. will heavily invest in artists from Israel and across Europe who initiate cross-cultural events with each other as a means of promoting Europe’s cultural sphere on the international stage,” The Times of Israel stated.
The program by no means comes with a free ticket for Israel, which reportedly is obligated to pay a yearly participation fee of about 1.6 million euro.
“This is an important addition to Israel’s cultural scene and will do wonders for the development and prosperity of Israeli art,” Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper said.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.