Ashton and Netanyahu shake hands 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy - GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held urgent consultations Monday night to
discuss what Israeli officials termed the European Union’s refusal to show the
necessary flexibility on its settlement guidelines to allow Israel to join the
massive Horizon 2020 project.
Israel and the EU have been in intensive
talks since August looking for a formula that would enable Israel’s
participation in the flagship EU Research and Development program.
is in light of EU settlement guidelines published in June barring the transfer
of any money or funds to entities beyond the Green Line, including east
Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
The guidelines stipulate that every
agreement between the EU and Israel must include a clause saying that it is not
applicable beyond the Green Line.
Israel has said it would not join the
80 billion euro program – Jerusalem would be expected to pay some 600 million
euros into the project with the expectation of receiving 900m. euro back in
research grants and investments – unless explicit understandings with the EU
were reached on the implementation of these guidelines.
month Israel presented a number of conciliating proposals to the EU, including
one stating that while Israel accepts that the EU would not fund beyond the
Green Line, it wants to add a clause that this should not be seen as prejudging
a final agreement with the Palestinians.
Israeli officials said Monday,
however, that the EU essentially told Israel that while they would like Israel’s
participation, the “guidelines are what they are,” and that the decision to join
the program was in Israel’s hands.
“They only showed flexibility on
marginal issues,” one official said, adding that a decision whether to accept
the conditions had to be made at the political level.
disputed this reading of the situation, saying that the EU did show
“flexibility” and was looking for a “pragmatic way of implementing the
At the same time, one European source said, the EU did not
want to be seen as granting a “victory” on this matter to Netanyahu or appear to
the European public as backing down from its principles.
Netanyahu met on
the matter Sunday afternoon with Education Minister Shai Piron, Economy Minister
Naftali Bennett and Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri. He was
scheduled to hold a second meeting on the matter in the evening.
that is being considered, if Israel does not join the project, is to invest the
600m. euros directly into Israeli academic institutions and R&D
Various academic bodies, such as the Israel Academy of Sciences
and Humanities, have implored the government to sign the Horizon 2020 agreement,
arguing that not to do so would be a huge blow to Israeli research.