The Israeli flag was hoisted at the international particle physics laboratory CERN on Wednesday, as a sign of Israel's full membership.
The blue Star of David joined the flags of 20 other countries at the Globe of Science and Innovation, the spherical building near Geneva that has become CERN's most publicly identifiable landmark, to mark Israel's participation as the 21st member state - and the first non-European full member of the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
The significance of Israel's membership is that Israelis will now be included in CERN's management committee and will have a say in the research policies and resource allocation of the organization. It will also enable Israeli scientists to apply for CERN grants and to gain access to the organizations laboratories and facilities. Israeli companies will be able to participate in tenders for infrastructure construction and maintenance.
"This is a happy moment," said Eliezer Rabinovici, a physicist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who heads the Israeli Academy of Science's National Committee for High Energy Physics as well as the Israeli research team at CERN. "The Israeli scientists have cleared a path for Israel to become full members of a scientific enterprise aimed at studying the secrets of the universe while engaged in global collaboration."
Wednesday's flag-raising ceremony was attended by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and a team of Israeli scientists, including the president of the national Academy of Sciences, Prof. Ruth Arnon, and Prof. Emanuel Trachtenberg, chairman of the Planning and Budget Committee of the Council of Higher Education.
"Israel is committed to the advancement of science and technology for the good of mankind," Lieberman said in his address. "As such, it is committed to being part of the international scientific community and to contributing to cooperation among the developed countries."
"It is my honor to welcome Israel as a member," said CERN director-general Prof. Rolf Heuer. "We have a rich past of bilateral cooperation and this is a historic day that will be remembered by both Israel and CERN."