Sunday

3rd Dec 2023

Israeli MP: EU action shows Israel is becoming 'pariah'

  • Cern accelerator: Switzerland is not an EU state, but Israeli scientists fear losing contact with Europe (Photo: Andre Goerres)

An MP from Israel's second largest party has warned that settlement-building risks cutting off Israel from the West.

Ofer Shelah, a Knesset deputy from the centrist Yesh Atid party, a key member of Israel's ruling coalition, whose leader, Yair Lapid, is the country's new finance minister, made the statement in Hebrew on his Facebook page on Wednesday (14 August).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Referring to new EU guidelines which block funding for Israeli entities which operate on Palestinian land, he said: "The price of occupation that … used to be some abstract, philosophical notion, nowadays is concrete, obvious - and unbearable."

He noted that settlement-building "will make us the pariahs of the world."

He added: "The Western world that is our frame of reference, the world with whom our relations nourish our technological and economic power, says to us in word and deed that we will no longer be able to belong to it while continuing our control over another people."

Referring to Israel's potential exclusion from Horizon 2020, the EU's multi-billion-euro research programme, he also said: "We know where to get money. But it means that we shall also be disconnected from the most important projects, those that are irreplaceable: All the money in the world will not give us a particle-accelerator the likes of the Swiss, where we shall no longer share the research it bears."

Leading scientists, such as Ruth Arnon, the president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, recently wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make the same point.

Commentators also note that Israel already signed a deal, in 1972, with the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation, which says the body will not give US money to firms which work on occupied land.

Shelah spoke out the same day that Palestinian and Israeli negotiators held a new round of peace talks in Jerusalem.

In a separate event, European Commission and Israeli officials on Wednesday in Tel Aviv also held first talks on Horizon 2020.

The commission said in a statement the talks aim to draft a memorandum of understanding on science co-operation.

It noted that Wednesday's "exploratory" talks handled only "technical and financial aspects" of Horizon 2020, while a second round, in Brussels in September, will discuss the "territorial scope" of the new EU rules.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) earlier said the most prickly part of the guidelines, the so-called territoriality clause, might be softened.

The clause obliges Israel to sign agreements which say it has no sovereignty over East Jerusalem, Gaza, the Golan Heights and the West Bank before it gets EU funds.

According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the EEAS has also said it has "tacit support from the American administration" for its initiative, however.

Israeli threat

For its part, the Israeli foreign ministry took the opposite line to Shelah.

It said in its communique on Wednesday that EU "research institutions and companies" stand to lose access to Israel's "groundbreaking research and innovation."

It also threatened that "should such understandings [on softening the territoriality clause] not be reached, Israel will be unable to join the European R&D programme."

Meanwhile, the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks ended in a low-profile agreement to meet again in the next few days in either Ramallah or Jericho, two Palestinian cities.

Wednesday's meeting between Israel's chief negotiator, Tzipi Livni, and Palestine's top envoy, Saeb Erekat, took place amid an EU, US and Palestinian outcry on settlements.

Netanyahu's government on the eve of the talks said Israel will build more than 2,000 new Jewish homes on Palestinian land.

A senior official in the the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said on Tuesday the move "threaten[s] to provoke the collapse of the [peace] negotiations."

Opinion

Dubai's COP28 — a view from the ground

Discussion of the biggest existential threat humanity has ever faced is barely mentioned on billboards or signage in Dubai — yet visitors are made aware quite quickly that t world rugby sevens tournament is imminent.

Latest News

  1. Israel's EU ambassador: 'No clean way to do this operation'
  2. Brussels denies having no 'concern' on Spain's amnesty law
  3. Dubai's COP28 — a view from the ground
  4. Germany moves to criminalise NGO search-and-rescue missions
  5. Israel recalls ambassador to Spain in new diplomatic spat
  6. Migrant return bill 'obstructed' as EU states mull new position
  7. Paris and Berlin key to including rape in gender-violence directive
  8. What are the big money debates at COP28 UN climate summit?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us