Israel’s Cabinet on Sunday unanimously approved joining the European Union’s Creative Europe program which offers creators financial assistance for their endeavors despite the initiative excluding the country's settlements.
The program will provide millions of euros in broad financial support to artists collaborating with artists from European countries in order to promote cultural development at the international level.
However, the ambit of the program leaves out projects beyond the June 1967 lines — in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. The government said it would indemnify Israeli nationals who were ineligible for funding due to their place of work or residence.
Creative Europe is one of the EU's flagship programs, and Israel's entry is a significant step forward in promoting cooperation with the continent, opening up new opportunities for Israeli artists and creators who will receive support to promote their work at the local and international level.
Support will be doled out to creators and cross-border projects in a plethora of different cultural fields, including theater, dance and choreography and plastic arts, providing creative workshops, professional training, promotion of European and Israeli film festivals and translation of Hebrew literature into European languages.
Some settler leaders decried what they considered discrimination against Israelis living in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
"I demand that the Israeli government annul this decision and announce that it will not sign with any country in the world or with the European Union an agreement that humiliates the State of Israel, undermines its sovereignty and discriminates against and excludes its creators and filmmakers," said Yossi Dagan, head of the Shomron Regional Council in the West Bank.
"Any decent person will agree that [the government] cannot sign discriminatory agreements that humiliate the State of Israel."