Israel will not sign any further agreements with the European Union until the EU “clarifies” its new regulations, according to which no Israeli body that operates or has links beyond the Green Line can receive EU funding or have any cooperation with the EU.
The move may threaten Israel’s participation in the EU’s massive Horizon 2020 program to promote scientific research and development.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a special meeting Thursday with relevant ministers to discuss the matter. Attendees included Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Education Minister Shai Piron, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, Science Minister Yaakov Peri, Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin.
The ministers “did not make a decision specific to Horizon 2020,” a government source told The Times of Israel, “but they all agreed that the new EU guidelines are detrimental to the possible success of the peace talks with the Palestinians.” Academics have warned that if Israel opted out of Horizon 2020, the negative impact on the country’s scientific standing would be “devastating.”
The ministers also agreed that “Israel won’t be able to sign additional agreements [with the EU] that include the stipulations the EU is demanding. The government of Israel will seek clarifications from the EU regarding the territorial clause,” the official said.
Despite heavy criticism from Israel, the European Union will not cancel, modify or delay the implementation of recently published guidelines that block EU funding from Israeli institutions either located or maintaining any links beyond the Green Line, a top EU official said.
“The guidelines will take effect as they are. This is how they were published [in the EU’s Official Journal], as a legal act, and that’s how it will be,” Ambassador Andreas Reinicke, the EU’s special representative to the Middle East peace process, told The Times of Israel last week. In certain areas where the guidelines are still unclear, there may be need for “a closer look” at the details, he allowed. But their main points will not be changed and will take effect by January 2014, as planned.
The EU’s directive, published last month, mandates a denial of European funding to, and cooperation with, Israeli institutions based or operating over the Green Line, and a requirement that all future agreements between Israel and the EU include a clause in which Israel accepts the position that all territory over the Green Line does not belong to Israel.
The exact formulation of this so-called territorial clause has yet to be determined and will likely be the subject of heated discussions between Israeli and European officials.
Brussels is also determined to introduce a labeling plan for settlement products by the end of 2013.