Israel struck a compromise deal with the European Union on Tuesday allowing it to join a prestigious EU scientific research project, Israeli government sources said, resolving a dispute over Jewish settlements in occupied territory.
Israeli participation had been jeopardised by new EU guidelines unveiled in July effectively barring EU money from being allotted to Israeli research institutes and other entities with operations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said the restrictions were unacceptable. But with the deadline for signing onto the lucrative Horizon 2020 science programme less than a week away, the two sides managed to overcome their differences.
“A compromise has been reached that will allow this project to move forward,” said an Israeli government official, who asked not to be identified. “Both sides understand that the other side has a different position on the politics, but there is an understanding that there is a mutual interest to cooperate in the issues of science and technologies.
“Ultimately, we believe it is a two-way street, and both sides have much to gain from this sort of cooperation.”
The EU is Israel’s biggest economic partner, accounting for almost a third of all its exports and imports.