Israel joins European culture program that excludes Judea and Samaria

While the Foreign Ministry touted the move as a “significant step,” Judea and Samaria officials denounced it as “disgraceful.”

By World Israel News Staff

Israel on Sunday announced that it will join the European Union’s Creative Europe program, which funds and promotes cultural cooperation between member nations, prompting ire from some right-wing officials because of its policy excluding Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Israel’s government unanimously approved participating in the program through 2027, which comes with an admission fee of 1.6 million euros ($1.68 million) per year, Israeli media reported.

The EU in turn pays out 2.5 billion euros every seven years for artists in member nations in a range of disciplines including film, visual art, choreography, literature and other creative endeavors.

Joining the program is “a significant step in promoting cooperation with Europe. Israel’s accession to the program will open up a new opportunity for Israeli artists and creators who will receive support to promote their work at the local and international levels,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Dimiiter Tzantchev, head of the EU delegation to the State of Israel, praised the “longlasting and strong cultural ties between the EU and Israel.”

Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper described it as an “important addition to Israel’s cultural scene.”

“It will do wonders for the development and prosperity of Israeli art,” he said.

The agreement includes a “territorial clause” only recognizing territories within the Green Line as eligible to receive funding. Creative projects from beyond the pre-1967 borders, including Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, are barred from participating in the program.

Yossi Dagan, the Samaria Regional Council head, slammed the government over its “discriminatory” decision to join the program.

The agreement “disgracees the State of Israel,” Dagan said. “It undermines Israel’s sovereignty and discriminates against West Bank artists.”