Israel officially joined the European Union's 80 billion euro ($110 billion) research and innovation program Horizon 2020 program on Wednesday. This comes a month after Israel reached a compromise with the EU enabling its participation in the program despite directives blocking funding from Israeli institutions situated beyond the Green Line.
The agreement was initialed in Brussels on Wednesday. The signing of the full agreement is expected to take place in April 2014, with Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett representing Israel.
Horizon 2020, the EU's 80 billion euro research and development program, whose projects will be launched between 2014 and 2020, stands to become a major contributor to scientific research funding in Israel.
The Science and Technology Ministry said Israel is expected to invest some 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in Horizon 2020 for an estimated return of 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion).
According to the compromise reached, Israel and the EU essentially agreed to disagree: Israel was to sign an addendum by which it would be able to retain its position that the language used by the EU in the Horizon agreement -- which states that there is a difference, funding-wise, between research bodies operating within and beyond the Green Line -- is unacceptable, but will also state that it will still abide by the EU's demand that the scientific funding offered by the bloc's member nations will not be diverted to institutions based beyond the Green Line.
Both sides have also agreed that any Israeli institution operating both within and beyond the Green Line would be allowed to apply for EU grants according to the program's overall outline, and each application would be considered according to its individual merit.
The EU has expressed concerns that it would be unable to verify the use of funds allotted to dual-based institutions and Israel has agreed to formulate a solution to ensure that the money did not reach the settlements.
This agreement "does not mean that the State of Israel accepts the European Union's political position [on settlements]. It only means that we recognize its request that its funding won't be diverted [to institutions] beyond the Green Line," a senior source in the Prime Minister's Office's said after the compromise was reached last month.