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Israel has reached an agreement with the United States over intellectual property rights, after a decade of disagreement. Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said yesterday that the two countries have reached an understanding which will remove Israel from the blacklist of nations that violate intellectual property rights.

The agreement states that Israeli laws on pharmaceuticals will be changed - to the disadvantage of generic drug makers, such as Teva Pharmaceuticals. Among other changes, the generic firms will be denied access to information presented to the Health Ministry for licensing patented drugs in Israel. In practice, the changes will lengthen the patent protection for drugs by a year or two.

Once the legislative changes are made, the United States has committed itself to actively support Israel's acceptance into the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, as the issue was one of the major disputes holding up Israel's entry into the OECD.