Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to decide early next week whether Israel
will negotiate with the EU over participation in the lucrative Horizon 2020
program, or refuse to enter the talks until disagreements over the newly
published EU settlement guidelines are resolved, The Jerusalem Post has
The technical/professional talks with the EU over the 80 billion
euro project are expected to begin on August 14.
Israel has not yet
decided whether to participate in the negotiations and try to settle disputes
over the new EU guidelines during those talks, or to refuse to participate until
questions over how the territorial clause in the future agreement will be
A meeting on the matter with Netanyahu is scheduled for early
A decision to stay away from the talks would be a signal that
Israel will not return to business as usual with the Europeans until the issue
is resolved, a diplomatic official said.
The guidelines in question
prohibit any EU funds in the form of grants, prizes and financial instruments
from going toward Israeli entities beyond the pre-1967 lines, and also mandate
that any future agreements with the EU incorporate a territorial clause
stipulating that the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are not
part of Israel.
Israeli officials said that although they were not
expecting the EU to roll back the guidelines, it is up to the European body –
since it put the issue on the agenda by codifying the guidelines – to find a
solution that will enable further EU-Israel cooperation.
Horizon 2020 is
the EU’s innovation flagship program, meant to create jobs and fuel economic
growth. Israel is the only non-EU country that has been asked to join as a full
partner, and is expected to pay some 600 million euros over the next seven years
to take part. This is considered a worthwhile investment, because for every
shekel Israel contributes, it is expected to get back NIS 1.5 in research funds
and other inbound investments.
Israeli officials, such as Science,
Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri, have said that a failure to
participate in the program would cost Israel dearly in lost R&D funds.
European officials, such as Elmar Brok, chairman of the European Parliament’s
Foreign Relations Committee, have said that Israel’s refusal to participate
would harm European interests because it would lose out on Israel’s cutting-edge
innovation and technology.
Israeli officials said EU foreign policy chief
Catherine Ashton may have signaled an indication of a willingness to find a
resolution to the problem, in her statement Wednesday welcoming the resumption
of Israel-Palestinian negotiations.
“The resumption of talks opens new
doors both for developing further the EU’s contribution to peace and security in
the region and for deepening our relations with both parties,” Ashton
“When the Lady Ashton speaks of opening new doors, we believe this
is a welcome allusion to a review, and maybe even a freeze, of the recently
published EU guidelines regarding settlements,” one diplomatic official
“If that is to be confirmed, it would be a most productive and
welcome move in support of peace talks and of EUIsrael partnership.”
week, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon – presumably after coordination with
Netanyahu – responded to the new guidelines by ordering the IDF’s civil
administration to cease cooperation in joint projects with the EU in Area C of
the West Bank.