Israel Rejoins EU Science Program that Excludes Samaria and Judea

c This includes a controversial clause that bans the use of funds in the Golan Heights, east Jerusalem and Samaria and Judea. To date, Horizon Europe is the largest research program to have been introduced by the European Union and it has a budget of 95.5 billion euros. The previous rounds of this program has helped in funding technological research and developments in Israel’s academia as well as the private sector. Yair Lapid, the Foreign Minister, said that joining the Horizon program positions Israel as a prominent player in the world’s most important and largest research and development program.

The seven year Horizon Europe program that starts in 2021 and will end in 2027 also comprises of the territorial exclusion clauses from the last seven years that had been diplomatically and politically controversial when they had been negotiated back in 2013. An agreement had been made between Tzipi Livni, the Justice Minister in 2013, and Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign envoy. It had also included a compromise that was recommended by then economy minister, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. The appendix stated that Israel was in opposition of the exclusion of Samaria and Judea on political and legal grounds.

According to the agreement, all Israeli organizations, companies and academic institutions applying for European grants and loans have to establish a mechanism for ensuring the money doesn’t get invested over the Green Line. Now that they have reached a final draft, it would have to be approved by the Knesset and the government, along with its exclusion clauses. The agreement had received strong opposition from Construction Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who had been deputy foreign minister, and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, who had been foreign minister, in 2013. 

But, this time around, Liberman was full of praises for the Horizon program and said that it was one of the world’s top research and development programs and Israel joining it was essential for the company’s future economic growth. Last year, Israel had been considering granting sovereignty to Samaria and Judea and EU sources had said that going through with the annexation would result in Israel being left out of the Horizon program. The signing of the Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates for normalization and peace resulted in scrapping that plan. 

In recent years, Israel’s membership in the Horizon program was negotiated by the Foreign Ministry, along with the Science and Technology, Innovation, Justice and Finance Ministries as well as the Council for Higher Education and the European Union. The official signing of the agreement is scheduled for December. According to Ami Appelbaum, the Israel Innovation Authority’s Chief Scientist, the Horizon 2020 program has given around 1.3 billion euros to Israeli entities. Appelbaum said that the quality of research had experienced a positive influence as a result, which had strengthened the international reputation of Israeli academia, along with its connections with the research community in Europe.

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