Israel signs Horizon Europe deal despite West Bank exclusion

Israel's Ambassador to the European Union Haim Regev and EU Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel.

The Horizon Europe agreement is intended to continue the success of Horizon 2020.

Israel signed a major research and innovation agreement with the European Union known as Horizon Europe, despite the exclusion of West Bank settlements, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights from the program.

Horizon Europe, which will be in place through 2027, is the largest global research program in the world with a budget of €95.5 billion ($106.8b.).

“Today’s agreement will allow Israelis and European scientists, innovators and researchers to continue to work together on the solutions of tomorrow through cutting edge technologies,” Science, Technology, and Space Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen (Blue and White) said on Monday during a short virtual ceremony held between Jerusalem and Brussels. “This agreement gives a voice of recognition to Israeli innovation and reaches what is our most precious natural resource.”

The agreement is an extension of a previous Horizon 2020 seven-year program, which also excluded Israeli entities located over the pre-1967 lines. The Jewish state has taken part in such European programs for the past 25 years.

According to the European Commission, “Israel ranked third in terms of overall participation in the program [Horizon 2020] and was among the best performers.” For the purpose of these programs, Israel is granted the same status as the 27 EU member states.

European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)

In Brussels, EU Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said that Horizon Europe is the EU’s “closest form of cooperation with non-European countries. It gives Israel the right to participate in the program on equal terms with the EU member states.

“For us, Israel’s association to Horizon Europe is a win-win venture. Israel gets access to probably the largest international research network and to new market opportunities,” Gabriel explained. “The EU and Horizon Europe program benefit from Israel’s scientific excellence and top-notch innovation capacity. Cooperation with Israel has led to breakthroughs in biotechnology, climate change-related technologies, safer transportation, new-drugs discovery, and many more.

“In the partnership with Israel, I hope to boost our innovation capacity in support of green and digital agendas and enhance science cooperation in the region,” she added.

In Jerusalem, Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz said the program has propelled Israeli science forward, and made a significant contribution to the country’s business sector.

The agreement was signed in Brussels by Gabriel and Israel’s Ambassador to the EU, Haim Regev.

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