Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to exclude settlements in territories Israel occupied in 1967 from a multi-million-euro deal with the European Union.
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Diplomatic sources say the deal will be brought before the cabinet for a vote. The CBC MED agreement would give 84.6 million euro in funding to initiatives that would transcend the Mediterranean's borders.
A notable clause in the agreement states that occupied territories in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights will not receive any of the funding allocated in the new program.
The program's goals are to create socio-economic developments, encourage environmental sustainability, boost the mobility of people, goods and money between Israel and Europe as well as to promote a cultural and political, local dialogue, among others.
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According to standard EU policy, the project includes the territorial clause which says that funding for the project cannot be extended to territories that were occupied by Israel in 1967.
The EU has described the program as seeking to tackle the “driving role of innovation and research, social inclusion and the fight against poverty, and finally the protection of environment and adapation to climate change.”
The project will encourage the development of small to medium-sized business enterprises and aims to inspire partners in the Mediterranean to collaborate and bring their projects together.
The refusal to grant financial aid to Israeli settlements in part of an official policy of the organization. An EU document dating back to 2013 describes the conditions Israeli institutions must meet to receive funding by the organization. "Conditions of eligibility of Israeli entities" notes that "only Israeli entities having their place of establishment within Israel's pre-1967 borders will be considered eligible" for grants, prizes and financial supports.
This is not the first time Israel signs on an accord that excluded territories beyond the Green Line.
In January 2017, an Israeli attempt to sign on a deal with the EU that did not include the settlements evoked the ire of several officials, and Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev withdrew her support of an Israeli participation in the "Creative Europe" program, eventually leading to the cancellation of the agreement.
In 2014, the Jewish state agreed to join a major EU program- the Horizon 2020- which focuses on research and innovation and also, as per the organization's policy, was not intended for occupied areas.
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