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Israel confirmed in Horizon 2020

Israel will be a full participant of the Horizon 2020 research programme from 1 January 2014, after a last minute deal was reached between the EU and Israeli ministers.

In a joint statement published in the evening of 26 November, the two sides announced they had found an agreement that was acceptable to both sides. The compromise was reached at a meeting between the Israeli minister of justice Tzipi Livni and the EU’s high representative Catherine Ashton.

Despite their positions remaining far apart concerning the legality of the Israel’s occupation of territories outside its original borders, the two sides said they had found a deal that was acceptable to both perspectives. “The agreement fully respects the EU’s legal and financial requirements while at the same time respecting Israel’s political sensitivities and preserving its principled positions,” read the joint statement.

A Commission official told Research Europe that EU guidelines, published in July, would be implemented as intended, meaning that Horizon 2020 will not fund research activities in the occupied territories.

Previously, the EU had said it will not provide funds to Israeli organisation located outside the country’s pre-1967 borders, which would exclude the regions of the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank from receiving funds from Horizon 2020. However, Israel has remained unwilling to agree to anything that concedes that the occupied territories are illegal, because of the political implications.

As a result, the two parties sought a legal compromise that enables both sides to maintain their political position on this issue, whilst permitting Israel to continue its membership of the EU’s Framework programme.

As an associate member under Framework 7, Israel received €624 million, and its links with the EU research programme are seen as vital by the nation’s science organisations.