US agrees to allow funding cutting-edge companies in Judea and Samaria

Until today tens of millions of dollars of annual investment had been limited to the borders of pre-1967 Israel.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel and the U.S. signed agreements extending research cooperation to areas beyond the pre-1967 border. Underlining the importance of the agreement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the signing ceremony at Ariel University in Samaria.

The agreement will permit three U.S.-Israel foundations that fund cutting-edge companies in Israel whose products are mutually beneficial to both countries to provide monies to research over the so-called Green Line.

The Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD), the Binational Science Foundation (BSF) and the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Foundation (BARD) grant tens of millions of dollars a year to push forward research and development in many areas of mutual interest to the two allies.

These include the fields of medicine, renewable energy, water, communications, agriculture, homeland security, and many other technology sectors.

All established in the 1970s, these government-run foundations have contributed well over a billion dollars in today’s money to Israeli projects which have led to scientific, medical and technological innovations with wide-ranging practical applications.

The three foundations were the last American institutions to officially exclude companies outside the so-called Green Line from competing for funding. Holding the ceremony in Ariel added to the symbolism of the move.

Before signing the revised agreement, U.S. Ambassador David Friedman called the geographic restriction an “old wrong” and an “anachronism” that “no longer comport with our foreign policy.”

Friedman referenced Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement last November that the official American position on the legality of settlements in Judea, Samaria and the Golan had changed. The U.S. government no longer held the opinion that their existence was “incompatible with international law,” he said.

Netanyahu credited Friedman for the day’s event, saying, “You’ve done it again,” and thanked the ambassador “for all your efforts on behalf of the Israeli-American alliance to right past wrongs, to put things on the right course.”

Netanyahu linked the revocation of the geographic constraints to President Donald Trump’s “successful approach to bringing peace” to the region, referring to the recent normalization of ties between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan.

“But I think the Trump vision also put something forward that we see today,” Netanyahu said. “It opens Judea and Samaria to academic, commercial and scientific engagement with the United States. This is an important victory against all those who seek to delegitimize everything Israeli beyond the 1967 lines. And to all those malevolent boycotters, I have a simple message today. You are wrong, and you will fail.”

Science and Technology Minister Yizhar Shai also signed with Friedman a new agreement that will establish yet another framework for scientific and technological research, as well as scientific innovation, between the two countries.

“The governments of Israel and the United States are strengthening their cooperation around scientific research and technological ventures, thereby creating countless opportunities for researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs to establish groundbreaking companies based on the joint products,” Shai said.