Netanyahu and Ashton - GPO - May 9, 2012
Meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with EU Foreign Commissioner Catherine Ashton in Jerusalem. Photo by GPO
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Despite the compromise that Justice Minister Tzipi Livni reached on Tuesday with the European Union’s foreign minister, Catherine Ashton, over the Horizon 2020 scientific cooperation agreement, Israel is now beginning to pay the price of its deeds in the occupied territories.

Four years after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at Bar-Ilan University, in which he recognized the principle of two states but nevertheless refused to stop construction in the settlements - following the government’s extremist statements and decisions to build thousands of housing units in the settlements; and following Israel’s ongoing harassment of Palestinian residents of the territories - the international community is beginning to take practical measures against Israel’s tactics of deception and the apartheid it practices toward the Palestinians.

In July, the European Commission published new guidelines that forbid European Union agencies and foundations to give grants or loans to Israeli bodies connected in any way to activity in the territories. These guidelines complicated the finalization of the Horizon 2020 agreement, as the European Union rejected most of Israel’s compromise proposals. This scientific cooperation agreement is expected to bring hundreds of millions of euros to Israeli research institutes and high-tech companies, so, had Israel not signed it, the result would have been a loss of NIS 2.5 billion for the research and development community.

In light of this expected loss, Livni conducted marathon negotiations with Ashton by telephone on Tuesday. The compromise that they reached deals mainly with how the money expected to flow from the European Union will be “fenced off” to ensure it doesn’t reach the settlements in any way. Though any Israeli entity that operates within the Green Line will be able to submit a request for European funding, it will need to develop a mechanism to ensure that any money it receives from the European Union is invested only in activities conducted inside the Green Line.

Despite the retreat from its initial refusal to compromise, the European Union is making an important contribution to Israel’s future by its determined stance against transferring money to the settlements. The settlement enterprise has turned Israel into an immoral state whose policies are unacceptable to the world of which it seeks to be part. It’s regrettable that the government hasn’t understood this on its own, but the international community must make this clear to it.

What the European Union, and essentially the entire world, is seeking is crystal clear: the reinstatement of the Green Line as the line that divides Israel from the occupied territories. Anything else will impose heavy economic, diplomatic and scientific costs.