The Horizon 2020 agreement will be signed in the coming days, after the representatives of the parties reached a compromise regarding the dispute over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. According to the compromise, Europe noted that the agreement doesn’t recognize activities beyond the green line and Israel added a paragraph stressing that Europe’s position should not be seen as a legally binding precedent. In the framework of the agreement, billions of dollars will be transferred to Israel to further scientific research.

Photo Credit: AP

Israel and Europe in the coming days will sign the historic Horizon 2020 agreement on research and development, an agreement that will witness the transfer of billions of dollars to the Jewish state to further scientific research.  The two sides reached this agreement after the European Union overcame a dispute last night over the legality of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. 

 Earlier in the year, the European Union had passed a new directive that bars its 28 member states from cooperating with Israeli entities that are based or even partly operate in Judea and Samaria, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.  The EU partial boycott included “all funding, cooperation, and the granting of scholarships, research grants and prizes” to Israeli entities based in those areas.  The EU had required all documents that will be signed with Israel include a clause claiming that areas beyond the 1967 green line do not belong to Israel and are excluded from the agreement.

 Due to this EU policy, numerous Israeli officials were worried that the Horizon 2020 agreement would not take effect.  As important as the agreement is to the Jewish state, the Israeli government didn’t want to set a legal precedent claiming that all areas beyond the green line that Israel seeks to hold onto in any future peace agreement with the Palestinians, such as Ariel, the Jordan Valley, and East Jerusalem, where the famous Hebrew University at Mount Scopus is located, don’t belong to the Jewish state.

 “As Israeli Prime Minister, I won’t allow hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in the West Bank, the Golan Heights and Jerusalem—our united capital—to be harmed,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated at the time.   Until recently, the European Union didn’t make any concession in regards to the new EU directives that would allow for the agreement to proceed. 

 After the confrontation and impasse with the European Union, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held an urgent meeting that set the goal of achieving a compromise that permits Israeli researchers to participate in the prestigious program while preventing the establishment of a legal precedent that goes contrary to Israeli national interests.  To that end, Netanyahu appointed Justice Minister Tzippi Livni to lead the negotiations regarding a compromise with EU Commissioner Catherine Ashton, in collaboration with Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin.

 According to the compromise, Europe adds to the research agreement a memorandum of understanding stating that Europe views activities beyond the green line to be illegal and that the money will not be transferred to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights, or East Jerusalem.  Israel, however, attaches a paragraph of its own stating that it does not accept Europe’s position and doesn’t view it as a legally binding precedent that will affect the outcome of peace negotiations with the Palestinians.    This compromise agreement is considered to be a major political achievement for the State of Israel.   

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