Israel to Join Key EU Research Program That Bans Use of Funds in Settlements

The Foreign Ministry refused to publish the draft agreement to join the EU's 95-billion-euro Horizon Europe program, which forbids investing funds outside Israel's pre-1967 borders, until the signing in December

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Construction in the Israeli settlement of Rahalim, south of Nablus, earlier this month.
Construction in the Israeli settlement of Rahalim, south of Nablus, earlier this month.Credit: JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Israel will join the European Union's multi-billion-euro research funding program for the next seven years, the Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday.

Horizon Europe is the EU's main program for funding research and innovation, and has a budget of 95.5 billion euros.

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The deal for Israel's participation in the program forbids it from investing the funds beyond its pre-1967 borders and bars academic and research institutions in settlements from participating.

In 2017, then-Culture Minister Miri Regev prevented Israel from signing a similar agreement that would have funneled large sums to cultural institutions because of a clause prohibiting the use of its funds in the West Bank. The Foreign Ministry has refused to publish the final draft of the agreement and says it will do so when the signing takes place in December.  

Since 2013, the EU has forbidden member states to fund, cooperate with or grant scholarships, research grants, and prizes to groups or individuals within West Bank settlements, the Golan Heights, or the parts of Jerusalem outside of Israel's pre-1967 borders. Additionally, the policy set in 2013 established that any future agreement signed with Israel must contain a clause asserting that the settlements are not part of Israel and are therefore not part of the agreement.

Israel signed the previous agreement on science funding, Horizon 2020, in 2013, after lengthy negotiations led by the Justice Minister at the time, Tzipi Livni.

Naftali Bennett, who was then economy minister, supported joining the program despite a clause regarding settlements, partly because a statement was added saying that the settlements' status within the agreement does not constitute an Israeli recognition of the pre-1967 borders. The original agreement said that the agreement did not apply to areas administered by Israel after June 5, 1967. A subsequent addition requested by Israel stated that the parties agreed "the application of this agreement is without prejudice to the status of those areas." The Foreign Ministry announced that identical wording will be included in the new deal.

The Israeli negotiation team for the new agreement included the finance, justice, and science and technology ministries. "Israel's joining of Horizon will bring high-quality jobs, technological progress, and new Israeli businesses," Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said.

Science and Technology Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen said that "for 25 years, Israel has taken part in the European research and development program, which serves as a strategic platform for research and technological innovation in Israel."

Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman meanwhile said that "Israel joining this program shows how much importance Israel sees in investing in and supporting research and development as a key for future economic growth."

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