By Elham Asaad Buaras
Academics and researchers from 13 EU member states have written to the EU’s head of Foreign Policy on September 12 urging the EU not to dilute its guidelines preventing EU funding going to Israeli projects in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights.
Campaigners fear that Israel and the US are pressuring the EU to drop or water down the new guidelines, ahead of negotiations on Israel’s participation in the Horizon 2020 EU research funding program which opened on September 12.
The letter to Baroness Catherine Ashton by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) and its French affiliate the Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine has been signed by over 500 academics in just 2 days.
It says, “As academic researchers, many of whom have been in receipt of EU research funding, we call upon the EU to implement its new guidelines in full and to ensure that projects, companies and institutions located in illegal Israeli settlements are not eligible for EU research funding.”
After strong lobbying from 250 academics from across Europe last year EU set new guidelines preventing Israeli universities, companies and projects based in illegal settlements from receiving funding.
In a statement to The Muslim News Chair of BRICUP, Prof Jonathan Rosenhead, said, “Just when we thought that the EU was going to live up to its international human rights responsibilities, it seems they are in danger of going weak at the knees again. How can they even contemplate funding Israeli activities taking place over the Green Line in illegal settlements?”
The guidelines would stop EU money going to companies such as cosmetics firm Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd, whose factory is located in the illegal Mitzpe Shalem settlement in the occupied West Bank, has participated in five projects under the current Framework Programme 7. These projects have a total value of €36,033,269, of which the EU has contributed €25,245,718.
US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has called for the guidelines to be dropped and a US official has claimed that there is an “openness” to this request among EU officials.