Israel will ensure that money it receives under a technology-sharing pact with the European Union will not be spent in the West Bank or east Jerusalem, an Israeli official said Wednesday, acceding to a European funding ban on projects in the occupied territories.
Israel and Europe reached a compromise Tuesday that enabled Israel to sign on to a 70 billion euro ($95 billion) research program known as Horizon 2020.
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Israel had feared that new EU guidelines preventing funding of projects or institutions in the West Bank would make it ineligible for many of the funds granted in the research program, since most universities and research centers have some activities in those territories.
Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin said Israel and the European Union agreed that Israeli institutions that operated in the occupied territories could apply for funding under the program, but that they would need to ensure that any money they receive be spent only inside Israel proper.
"Every Israeli entity will be able to apply. If it receives the money, it will need to find a mechanism, with the Europeans, that will allow the Europeans to achieve their objective: that their money ... will not go beyond the Green Line," Elkin told Israel Radio.
Diplomatic sources told Ynet Tuesday night that Israel and the EU reached understandings according to which Israel could be part of Horizon 2020.
According to understanding, the agreement would include a clause stating that any entity working beyond the green line will be able to apply for loans while Israel could continue to clarify its objection to the outline of the settlements ban.
Earlier Tuesday, direct diplomacy began between ministers Tzipi Livni and Naftali Bennett and the European representatives, with the hope of saving the agreement and allowing Israel to join the program.
The European Union, along with much of the international community, considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem illegal and an obstacle to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The Palestinians want those territories, along with the Gaza Strip, for their future state. Elkin said the EU compromise also included an Israeli statement objecting to the European position on settlements.
Elkin added that Israel would compensate institutions that are ineligible for the EU funding because they are located in the occupied territories.
The Horizon 2020' program enables participants to apply for funds for research and collaboration in areas such as climate change, renewable energy and food safety. The EU has budgeted more than 70 billion euros ($95 billion) for the program, which is to run from 2014 to 2020, and officials estimate that Israel could gain more than 300 million euros ($400 million) from the complicated funding system over the seven-year period.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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