Israel Already Signed Deal With U.S. That Limits Funding to Inside 1967 Borders

The wording of the 1972 agreement with the United States rejects projects in West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights, similar to controversial EU guidelines due to go into effect on January 1.

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Israel says it won’t sign EU scientific agreements that forbid funding to entities based over the Green Line, but it signed such a deal with the United States in 1972.

The United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation, the main body promoting scientific cooperation between the U.S. and Israel, requires that projects be based inside the 1967 borders.

"According to the agreement between the U.S. and Israeli governments, projects sponsored by the Foundation may not be conducted in geographic areas which came under the administration of the Government of Israel after June 5, 1967 and may not relate to subjects primarily pertinent to such areas," the foundation says on its website in the section under eligibility.

The foundation disburses around $15 million annually, helping fund projects such as research delegations and conferences. It has awarded nearly $500 million in grants to around 4,000 scientists.

The foundation is one of three primary frameworks within which Israel receives research grants from other nations. The other two are the EU, and the joint German-Israeli GIF. Hebrew University in Jerusalem, for example, has received roughly 20 million Euros in funds from the EU through the FP7 program, which is set to end soon, and $4 million dollars from the Binational Science Foundation.

An official involved in the foundation's work says the Israeli government is aware of the clause and that the foundation has never veered from the guideline.

This week, negotiations begin with the European Union on Israel joining the Horizon 2020 program for scientific cooperation. Under new EU guidelines set to go into effect on January 1, entities with links to the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights may not take part. Israel has announced that it cannot sign such an agreement and is thus negotiating with the European Union.

Israel is the only non-European country eligible to join the program as a member with equal rights. Israel has received millions of euros from the European Union in previous scientific agreements.

Earlier this week, the president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Prof. Ruth Arnon, sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explaining the importance of scientific cooperation with Europe.

Arnon wrote that if Israel disagrees now, it may not get a second chance to join Horizon 2020 with the same benefits. Arnon said it is not just a matter of money; there is simply no replacing scientific cooperation with the European Union, both for research institutions and the high-tech industry.

She urged the government to sign the agreement and offered to meet with ministers to get them on board.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton during her visit to Israel in June.Credit: Reuters