Agreeing to disagree with the EU on settlements

Horizon 2020 EU scientific project

Earlier this year, the European Union issued a directive which effectively required to push Israel back to the 1949 armistice lines if it wished to receive EU funding for certain projects.  With the tempting bait of participation in the prestigious European Horizon 2020 scientific project, both Europe and Israel have been struggling to find a way to swallow the frog without choking on it.

Thankfully it appears that a compromise has been reached, whereby the two sides will agree to disagree:

On Tuesday night Israel and the European Union (EU) reached a compromise on wording for Israel’s participation in the “Horizon 2020” European scientific collaboration project. The joint project was thrown in jeopardy by new EU guidelines that boycott entities over the 1949 Armistice line.

Intensive phone conversations between Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni and EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton finally led to the breakthrough. Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin were also involved in the discussions.

In the compromise the EU will note in the agreement that it does not recognize Israeli activities over the 1949 Armistice line and is not prevented from its new boycott guidelines, while Israel will attach a section emphasizing that it does not see in the EU’s stance an obligating legal precedent, reports Mako.

The JPost adds more detail:

According to the compromise, Israel would write explicitly in an appendix to the agreement that it does not accept the guidelines, while the EU will write that the guidelines reflect European policy.


The compromise agreement came after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided at an urgent meeting Sunday evening that a way needed to be found to enable Israel’s participation in the program, and directed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni to do so.

Government officials said that although Netanyahu made clear he wanted a deal, he also made clear that it could not be at any price.

One official said that the moment he charged Livni with this task, instead of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman or Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin – both of whom opposed in principle what they viewed as a European attempt to use an economic agreement to impose their political polices on Israel – it was clear a deal would be reached.

During a day of marathon phone conversations, Livni spoke with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, while Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with her deputy Pierre Vimont.

Wow. Livni and Bennett working together. I admit I am impressed. Kol hakavod to both of them for putting aside their political differences to work together for Israel’s benefit.


Just a few hours before the compromise was agreed upon, Bennett told Israel Radio that people who want to invest in Israel have the right to decide where they want – and do not want – to put their money.

What they do not have the right to do, Bennett said, was impose their political positions in the process.


Even before Tuesday, the EU – in an effort to make the settlement guidelines less visible in the Horizon 2020 agreement – showed flexibility and agreed that entities applying for grants would not have to sign a declaration that the money was not for operations beyond the Green Line, but rather merely click a box saying that they abide by all the stipulations of the agreement.

One Israeli official said the guidelines will mean that Ariel University will not be eligible for EU grant money, and that the government will now have to find a way to compensate it, since it will be at an unfair disadvantage vis-à-vis the other universities eligible for EU funds.

Israel is the only non-EU country to have been asked to join Horizon 2020 as a full partner, and is expected to pay some 600 million euros over the next seven years to take part. This is considered a worthwhile investment, however, because for every shekel contributed, it is expected to get back 150 percent in research funds and other inbound investments.

This is certainly good news, even if of course the best news would have been that the EU recognizes Israel’s rights to Judea and Samaria.

But that would entail pigs to fly. And we all know that pigs aren’t kosher.

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9 Responses to Agreeing to disagree with the EU on settlements

  1. NormanF says:

    Ideally, the best solution would have been to tell the EU anti-Semites to go screw themselves and take their money with them.

    I’m not happy with this compromise but least the Europeans backed down from imposing their pro-Arab viewpoint on Israel.

    The two sides will continue to disagree but the EU’s bid to harm Israel severely has been thwarted, at least for the foreseeable future.

    • anneinpt says:

      You’ve echoed my sentiments exactly. At first reading I was disappointed that Israel climbed down, but on further reading I saw that the EU made some fairly large compromises themselves.

      It’s about as good an outcome as we could have expected in the current circumstances.

  2. PeteCA says:

    sorry … off topic. I told you this would happen this week 🙂

    Americans support Iran deal by 2:1 majority.

    amazing poll result.
    I suppose the 33% who dislike it must be a very vocal minority. I have never seen so many critical comments on Yahoo News 🙂
    Pete, USA

    • anneinpt says:

      Well, that’s heartening to know Pete (about the critical comments). These surveys always depend on whom they ask and how they frame the questions. I take the results with a pinch of salt, although it is possible they are true.For the average American who feels uninvolved in a war half a world away, why should this deal NOT sound good?

      • NormanF says:

        Every one wants peace. So what?

        War is a necessary evil. A US poll shouldn’t dictate to Israel on how to survive.

        National survival is not a popularity contest. Regardless of what war-weary Americans think of the deal, when Israel ultimately has to make the right choice in the future, it should never be swayed by the views even of friends.

        And that is the way it should be.

        • anneinpt says:

          when Israel ultimately has to make the right choice in the future, it should never be swayed by the views even of friends.

          From your keyboard to G-d’s ears – and to the Knessset.

  3. DavidinPT says:

    Despite various contributors alluding to Bibi’s spinelessness, I still feel that when the sh*t is just about to hit the fan, he will give the green light to the attack. I believe that deep within himself he sees this as his personal, family, national and historic mission. Meanwhile the “agreement” might work, and/or the Iranian masses may rise up. But if not, then …..

  4. ealha3 says:

    The primary priority of foreign policy is to pursue the policy of “self-interest.” There are long run and short run aspects of this priority and much of both deal in deception of ultimate objectives by each self-interested party. And much of the deception is directed at sub-political entities that seek to influence the ultimate policy to favor their own self-interests. Needless to say, it becomes quite complex. Israel is keeping its eye on the most important ball it seeks to influence – e.g., the economic benefits of participation while creating the necessary deception of allowing certain concessions to placate certain interests, e,g, institutions seeking to advance their intellectual and research interests while avoiding aggravating others, e.g., EU’s Islamic donors and political organizations. Bottom line: Another example of Israel’s extraordinary intellectual, research and cultural superiority.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thanks for your incisive and informative comment Elliott. Looking at this agreement to disagree, it seems a perfect example of your smoke-and-mirrors diplomatic maneuvering.

      What fascinated me was the eagerness of the Europeans to reach this compromise. I did not expect them to bend so fast (though not as far as I would have ideally liked). As you say, Israel’s intellectual and technological superiority are at least as necessary and desirable for the Europeans as the settlements and its own sovereignty are to Israel.

      So – not a bad compromise all round.

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