Israel and the EU reach compromise agreement on EU settlement guidelines

The EUThe EU

Israel has reached a compromise agreement with the European Union on Tuesday that will allow it to join the EU’s flagship research and innovation programme that starts in January.

Israel’s participation in the 70 billion euro programme, which is part of the drive to create new growth and jobs in Europe, had been jeopardized by the EU guidelines unveiled in July by the European Commission and which barred EU funding to Israeli research institutes and other entities in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

The EU guidelines also required that every new Israeli agreement with the EU – like Horizon 2020 must include a clause saying that it is not applicable beyond the Green Line, a territorial clause which was inacceptable for Israel.

Since the publication of the guidelines, the EU and Israel have held a series of negotiations on the issue to try to find a formula acceptable for both parties.

Jerusalem proposed an amended version of the guidelines that accepts the EU’s position on ineligibility of funding for settlements but would prevent Israel from explicitly endorsing such a standpoint.

According to the Israeli media, Israel’s Justice Minister Tzipi Livni spent hours on the phone Tuesday with EU foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton to hammer out a compromise agreement.

On Monday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a series of urgent consultations on the issue with several of his ministers and reportedly asked Livni to contact Ashton.

Israel released a joint statement that ‘’fully respects the EU’s legal and financial requirements while at the same time respecting Israel’s political sensitivities and preserving its principled positions.”

According to Israel’s Channel 2, Israel will add a clause stating that it does not accept the EU’s definition of territory beyond the 1967 lines.

“Our understanding is that the Israeli government has accepted the fundamental principle that the EU has a policy that says that we don’t want to use money in the settlements,” the EU’s ambassador-designate to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, told The Times of Israel. “And the Israeli government has formulated its proposal in a way that they don’t agree with that policy but accept that this is our policy.”

Israel and the EU have enjoyed close scientific cooperation in the past and Israel was the only non-EU member to be invited to participate in the Horizon 2020 program.

The joint statement says the agreement “will allow Israel’s scientific community to benefit from one of the most important EU programs and facilitate its further integration into the European space of research and innovation.”