News / Middle East

Israel Poised to Halt EU Science Collaboration

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) speaks during her meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, June 20, 2013.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) speaks during her meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, June 20, 2013.
Cecily Hilleary
This week, Israel’s prime minister has an important decision to make:  Should Israel participate in a lucrative, seven-year scientific research program with the European Union? Or should it decline and lose out on potentially millions of dollars in grants for its academic and industrial researchers? 

The EU and Israel have collaborated in academic and industrial research for years.  Israel has been the only non-European member of the EU Research and Technological Development Framework Programme (FP) since 1996.  Last year, Europe funded nearly 1,500 Israeli researchers working on more than 1,200 projects, making the EU Israel's biggest source of public research funds. 

This week marks the deadline for signing up to participate in the EU’s Horizon 2020 project, an ambitious seven-year, multi-billion dollar research program that could translate into research grants worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Israel.  It is set up so that each participating country contributes funds into a common “pot,” then competes against the others for grants.  Israel was expected to contribute about 600 million euros ($785 million) over the next seven years, but could have received back twice that amount in grants.

And if Israel does not sign up, it will not be eligible for any more European research grants until 2020. 

So why is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holding back?  At issue are some tough conditions set by the EU for doing business with Israel.
 
The EU does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem—lands Israel captured during the 1967 Middle East war. 
 
Last June, the EU clarified those guidelines, saying no money, grants or any other kind of financial investment can be made in any Israeli organization operating in those areas.  To get those investments, Israel would have to sign a clause saying the funds will not be used beyond the 1967 “green line.”  Netanyahu has said he refuses to accept any “external edits” on Israeli borders, and his economics minister, Naftali Bennett, has called the European guidelines “economic terrorism.”

Michael MannMichael Mann
x
Michael Mann
Michael Mann

The EU view

Michael Mann, Chief Spokesperson to E.U. High Representative Catherine Ashton, emphasizes there is nothing new to the guidelines, which were adopted on July 19, but are based, he says, on long-standing EU policy. 

If that is the case, then why such a strong, negative reaction in Israel?

“I don’t know,” said Mann.  “You would have to ask people in Israel why they’ve reacted in the way they have.  Presumably, it may have drawn attention to this fact.  The policy exists already. 

"For example, science funding from the European Union should only apply to the recognized territory of Israe," he said. "So I would imagine that people have probably been reminded of this or made aware of this because of the publication of these guidelines, but we would just reiterate that this is not a change in policy, and it’s not anti-Israeli.”

Mann says that is a point that Catherine Ashton made by phone to Netanyahu last week. 

“We want Israel to participate in our programs.  We want to work together with our Israeli friends, and we will do all we can to clarify what this means,” Mann said. “Maybe there’s been a misunderstanding in Israel.”

The legal dispute

But any misunderstanding, says Yehudit Shier Weisberg, coordinator for the Canadian Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, is solely the EU’s.
 
“The EU claims that the settlements are illegal. According to international law, this is incorrect,” she said.  “The EU has supported negotiations between the parties, and yet they are taking a stand that is totally against negotiated settlement, because they are pre-determining the results and they are ignoring international law.”
 
Weisberg cites agreements and conventions dating back to the 1920 San Remo declaration by which, she says, the Allied Nations called for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine—including, she says, Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
 
“The San Remo declaration was unanimously adopted by the League of Nations,” she said, “and this has validity up until this day because of article 80 of the U.N. Charter, which reaffirms the validity of the rights granted to all states or peoples, according to international law, including those adopted by the League of Nations.”
 
In layman’s terms, she argues that Israel has every legal right to build in the disputed territories.
 
In Bogota Colombia, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the U.S. views the Israeli settlements as “illegitimate,” but added that the issue that must be resolved through negotiations.

Elisha HaasElisha Haas
x
Elisha Haas
Elisha Haas
View from the laboratory

Dr. Elisha Haas heads the biophysics program at Tel Aviv’s Bar-Ilan University, where he studies the physics of translating genetic information known as the “second genetic code.”  While his research depends on outside funds, he hopes that Netanyahu will say “No, thanks” to Horizon 2020.

“The European Union wants to impose on Israel their policy, so they use a boycott in order to bend Israel,” Haas said.  “Science is part of culture.  Keep it out of the political struggle.” 

The EU guidelines do not apply to all Israeli researchers and organizations, only to those doing business beyond the green line in the occupied territories.  But that does not matter to Hass.

“That means that if I want to get a grant, I will have to sign [a paper] saying I will not ask for any service by my research assistant who lives in Ariel [an Israeli settlement], across the green line," he said.

As far as he is concerned, Israel can take the money it would have contributed into Horizon 2020 and grant it directly to its own researchers—who, by the way, can still collaborate with scientists outside of the European Union.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mike
August 30, 2013 10:46 AM
If the EU want to collaborate with Israel, of course they can. If they don't want Israel as part of their EU programme, they don't have to include them.... and if they invite Israel to participate, but according to their own political conditions... well, duh - that's their right too.

What's the outrage? Say yes (like an adult, and adapt) or say no (and shoot the country's economy in the foot out of pride).


by: SAS from: Atlanta
August 15, 2013 10:21 AM
Kudos to the European Union for its firm stance against Israel's illegal settlements of Palestinian lands. In fact, I would be in favour of a total settlement product boycott and an arms embargo on the Israeli apatheid regime.


by: Cal Kris from: Washington, DC
August 14, 2013 8:47 AM
that should be "no idea" -- sorry for my own misspelling!


by: Tony Bellchambers from: London
August 14, 2013 3:48 AM
The Israeli trade minister will be well aware that if his government make further announcements about extending illegal settlements, then the EU will almost certainly act to restrict Israel's preferential access to European Union markets, without which Israel's economy would collapse.

That is reason enough for the Knesset to tread very carefully indeed. If the talks break down again due to Israeli intransigence then the Netanyahu government might need to find new markets very quickly for its Uzi machine guns, software and re-exported diamonds, in order to maintain its economy and avoid complete dependence on the US for its economic survival.

And that would effectively make it the (nuclear) arm of the US in the Middle East with a future Knesset effectively subject to the will of Congress. Maybe it would be preferable for Obama to replace Netanyahu as political head - if that brings peace and an end to Israel's political posturing and illegal settlements.


by: Andi Ali from: England
August 13, 2013 5:54 PM
What a lot of nonsense Elisha Haas speaks. There is nothing 'immoral' about banning Israeli organisations outside the Green Line receiving EU grants - it would be a crime to fund the settlements. These places were built on Palestinian land. Personally, I hope the EU starts blocking any Israeli individual or group that operates outside the Green Line.


by: Cal Kris from: Washington, DC
August 13, 2013 5:16 PM
Colombia is misspelled at the end of the article. That's something I know. I have know idea of the veracity or accuracy of anything here about Israel or EU. I do like the interpretation out of Canada.


by: Stuart D. Dymian
August 13, 2013 3:24 PM
The Europeans should decide either to push forward world science, or to dabble in silly political games. Either way, Israeli science will continue to be of superior quality. Not clear why the Europeans are taking this strange sort of road. The Israeli government would probably do better funding its own science directly in any event, irrespective of this silliness.


by: Elisha Haas from: Bar Ilan University Israe
August 13, 2013 1:59 PM
Mr. Mann of the EU is wrong, in the past the EU rejected applications from Ariel university but it never demanded that a grantee of science project should declare participation in the discrimination against other Israelis just because they work in Judea and Samaria. This is whole new immoral ballpark. If Israel would manage its own money for research instead of sending it to the EU and getting it back with conditions, the productivity will increase and the loss due to not participating in the "joint pot" is not that large.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid