Israel, EU sign massive research deal that excludes Judea and Samaria

No companies in the territory liberated in 1967 can participate in the biggest research program in the world.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In a quick online ceremony, Israel and the EU signed a deal Monday whereby Israeli companies will continue participating in the biggest global research and innovation program in the world, except if they are located in the territories Israel liberated during the 1967 Six-Day War.

The exclusion is not new. The program, called Horizon Europe, is renewed every seven years. Israel has been a member for the last quarter century, and has acquiesced to the demand to leave out Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights every time.

When the Netanyahu government signed onto the last iteration of the program in 2020, it attached an appendix stating that Israel opposed the European directives regarding the disputed territories, both legally and politically, and that bodies based there would be able to apply for grants. However, it also stated that the EU will have the right to reject those requests based on geographical reasons.

In a Mitvim survey earlier this year, nearly half of the Israelis polled (47%) said that they objected to participating in EU programs that ban companies over the so-called Green Line, with 35% voicing support for joining.

The program has helped Israel’s business and academic sectors enormously, as they received just over a billion euro in grants from Horizon Europe 2020 over the last seven years out of its €95.5 billion (roughly USD 107 billion, or 340 billion shekel) budget. They won funding for research and innovations in fields ranging from quantum computing and green technologies to medicine, transportation and many more.

Praising Israel’s “scientific excellence and top-notch innovation capacity,” EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said that “cooperation with Israel has led to breakthroughs in biotechnology, climate change-related technologies, safer transportation, new drugs discovery, and many more.”

At the ceremony, Israel’s Minister of Science, Technology, and Space Orit Farkash-Hacohen said, “Today’s agreement will allow Israelis and European scientists, innovators and researchers to continue to work together on the solutions of tomorrow through cutting-edge technologies.”

According to the European Commission, “Israel ranked third in terms of overall participation in [Horizon 2020] and was among the best performers.”

The ability to take part in the quantum computing program is of special interest to Israel, as it has national security implications. Jerusalem fought for many months for permission to apply for new grants in this field and considered it a major victory when the European Commission reversed its original decision to exclude the Jewish State.