Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) embraces Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, Israel’s “best friend” in Europe.(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, is hailing an “unprecedented” decision by Germany to prevent its funds being diverted to institutions located in Israel’s illegal West Bank colonies.
“The German government is conditioning continued grants to Israeli high-tech companies, as well as the renewal of a scientific cooperation agreement, on the inclusion of a territorial clause stating that Israeli entities located in West Bank settlements or East Jerusalem will not be eligible for funding,” Haaretz reports today.
In an email received by The Electronic Intifada, Barghouti calls the German decision an “extremely significant development in the fast spreading European boycott of complicit Israeli institutions and companies that operate” in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Haaretz concurs, terming the move “a significant escalation in European measures against the settlements.” The newspaper adds:
While the Horizon 2020 scientific cooperation agreement, which Israel signed with the European Union a few weeks ago, prohibited EU funding for academic research conducted in the settlements, Berlin has now extended the funding ban to private companies located over the Green Line. Moreover, the boycott against the settlements has now spread from EU institutions in Brussels to individual EU members.
The fears in Israel’s foreign ministry, according to Haaretz, are that “given the ‘special relationship’ between Israel and Germany and the fact that Germany is considered Israel’s best friend in Europe, any Israeli consent to Germany’s demands is liable to set a precedent for all of Europe.”
“Germany will set an example for the rest of the world,” an official told Haaretz.
Israel now fears a situation where “every decision made by the European Commission in Brussels is automatically adopted by all 28 member states,” Haaretz says.
Just days ago, Matthew Gould, the British ambassador in Tel Aviv, warned that Israel faces growing isolation in Europe.
“We were days away from putting in a big rift between British or European science and Israeli science,” Gould said, regarding the recent negotiations over Israel’s participation in Horizon 2020.
Senior Israel officials, including justice minister Tzipi Livni and finance minister Yair Lapid, have in recent weeks sounded increasingly desperate warnings about the dire effects growing BDS campaigns were likely to have on Israel.
Don’t hold back
“Those who are still stuck in campaigns to merely push for labeling settlement products need to reflect on these successive developments in Europe and perhaps question the efficacy – and ethicality – of trying to hold back this process by proposing ineffective, virtually unverifiable, and extremely insignificant measures,” Barghouti said.
“Labeling campaigns are so two years ago!”
Barghouti was referring to glacially slow EU moves to merely label Israeli goods produced in settlements rather than banning them outright.