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Israel joins EU cultural program that refuses to fund projects in settlements

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C) chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on June 12, 2022. (Maya Alleruzzo / POOL / AFP)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C) chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on June 12, 2022. (Maya Alleruzzo / POOL / AFP)

Israel’s cabinet unanimously approves joining the EU’s Creative Europe program through 2027.

The program offers almost 2.5 billion euros every seven years toward films, visual art, literature and other creative endeavors.

Projects beyond the June 1967 lines — in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights — are not eligible for funding. As with Israel’s agreement with the EU on joining the Horizon Europe R&D funding program, a clause was added stating that Israel does not accept the EU’s definition of territory beyond the 1967 lines as illegal settlements.

In 2017, then-culture minister Miri Regev withdrew Israel’s application to join Creative Europe at the last minute over the settlement exclusion issue after three years of negotiations. In July 2021, Culture Minister Chili Tropper met with his French counterpart Roselyne Bachelot in Cannes to restart talks over Israel joining the program.

“As someone who prioritized improving Israel-EU relations from day one, this is the first tangible, substantive step that Foreign Minister Yair Lapid can show in this government, which hasn’t been in office for a year yet, and looks close to collapsing,” says Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu, an expert on Israel-Europe relations at the Mitvim Institute.

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