Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Freidman on Wednesday signed agreements extending scientific research cooperation to the West Bank and Golan Heights.
The agreements which lifts the ban on funding scientific research projects conducted in the West Bank and Golan Heights, allows scientists and researchers from the Ariel University situated in a West Bank settlement, to cooperate with and receive funding from American institutions.
“We are righting an old wrong and strengthening yet again the unbreakable bond between our two countries,” Friedman said at a signing ceremony
“I couldn’t be happier or more proud to sign on behalf of the United States the amended and corrected BSF, BIRD and BARD agreements as well as the new Science and Technology Agreement,” the ambassador said.
Netanyahu said the amended agreements are a demonstration of the commitment of the Trump administration to a new approach in the Middle East.
“By rejecting the failed mantras of the past, the Trump [peace] plan not only provides a realistic solution for the Palestinians…but it also put forward something else we see today. It opens Judea and Samaria to academic, commercial and scientific engagement with the US.”
Past scientific accords with the U.S. government stipulated that Israeli research projects receiving U.S. grants could not be carried out in areas that came under Israeli administration in 1967.
The Trump administration last year effectively backed Israel’s right to build West Bank settlements by abandoning a long-held U.S. position that they were “inconsistent with international law”.
Under a peace blueprint that Trump announced in January and which Palestinians rejected as biased towards Israel, Israel would retain control of most of its West Bank settlements.
In May, Trump recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau captured from Syria. He has also challenged international consensus by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. Embassy to the holy city.
The United States are six days away from an election with the president trailing his Democratic opponent by 10 points in national polling.
First published: 14:24, 10.28.20