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September 29, 2013 1:56 pm

Report: Israel Seeks to Lever $110 Billion ‘Horizon 2020’ Joint Research Initiative Against EU Sanction Directive

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Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Catherine Ashton in Jerusalem, June 19, 2013. Photo: Israel GPO.

Israeli negotiators are trying to exercise a multi-billion lever to counter a European Union directive to bar Israeli communities and entities operating beyond the pre-1967 lines from EU funding, the Gatestone Institute reported, as Israel has threatened to walk away from EU’s $110 billion Horizon 2020 science and innovation project, where it is the sole non-EU technology partner, unless a compromise can be reached.

“The issue came to a head after Israel threatened to cancel its participation in Horizon 2020, an €80 billion ($110 billion) scientific cooperation program sponsored by the European Union,” the Gatestone Institute reported in a research note.

“The EU and Israel both stand to benefit from Israel’s involvement in the lucrative program, which begins on January 1, 2014 and will run for a period of seven years. Israel — the only non-EU country that has been invited to join Horizon 2020 — is expected to invest €600 million in the program and receive €900 million in inbound research grants and other investments. For its part, the EU will benefit from Israeli research and technology, which is widely believed to surpass the capabilities of many EU member states,” Senior Fellow Soeren Kern writes.

The scope for research and innovation under Horizon 2020 is significant, with a €24 billion budget for science research, €17 billion for industrial innovation, and €30 billion “to help address major concerns shared by all Europeans such as climate change, developing sustainable transport and mobility, making renewable energy more affordable, ensuring food safety and security, or coping with the challenge of an ageing population,” the EU said on its website.

According to the Gatestone Institute, EU and Israeli officials met in Jerusalem on September 10 and then in Brussels on September 12 to discuss a compromise, but none could be reached. The task now falls to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to raise the issue directly with Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, by mid-November, ahead of the January 1 start of both the sanctions and the Horizons 2020 program, the Gatestone Institute report said.

The European Union’s 2014 guidelines, published in July, limit interaction with Israeli entities and impose financial sanctions on Israeli communities beyond the pre-1967 lines. The guidelines “reiterate the long-held position that bilateral agreements with Israel do not cover the territory that came under Israel’s administration in June 1967,” the EU said.

Israel’s immediate response, via Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, was to order the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot to suspend several joint Israeli-EU projects across Judea and Samaria and to deny EU officials the permits needed to travel freely between Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Gatestone Institute is a think tank chaired by John Bolton, former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, from 2005 to 2006, and Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, from 2001 to 2005. In addition to serving under President George W. Bush, Ambassador Bolton also served in the administrations of President Ronald Reagan and President George H. W. Bush.

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