The word of the week is “sad.”
EU officials were “very sad” that a grocery store was demolished in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan – though not sad enough to demand sanctions against Israel, the state which perpetrated that war crime.Emanuele Giaufret, meanwhile, declared himself a “little sad” that his stint as the EU’s ambassador to Tel Aviv is nearing its end.
The emotional envoy is nonetheless heartened by how relations between EU and his beloved Israel are solid.
One measure of their solidity is that the EU hierarchy gave its backing to Israel’s attack on Gaza during May.
Another measure is that Israel is now taking part in negotiations to join Horizon Europe, a scientific research program with a budget exceeding $113 billion.
According to Giaufret, the negotiations look “very promising.”
“Future business gains”
If Israel’s application to join Horizon Europe is approved, manufacturers of weapons used in blitzing Gaza will probably keep on receiving EU science grants.
Documents obtained through a freedom of information request indicate that the Brussels bureaucracy has already decided that Israel will be part of Horizon Europe.
Although the documents are packed with statistics, there is no mention whatsoever of how the arms companies Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries are being subsidized by the EU.
The omission is telling.
The papers were drawn up for Mariya Gabriel, the EU’s commissioner for science and research. Alerting Gabriel to how Europe supports the profiteers of Israel’s war crimes was evidently not deemed necessary by the officials who prepared these documents.
Instead, the 25 years of Israeli participation in EU research activities is depicted as entirely benign.
“Israel is actively contributing to the global EU branding of research and innovation,” says one paper. Cooperation with Israel provides an “opportunity for Europe’s future business gains,” it adds.
In January 2020, Gabriel had a meeting with Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Israel’s ambassador to the EU.A note prepared for Gabriel ahead of the encounter recommended that she celebrate the “excellent cooperation in research and innovation” between the EU and Israel.
Israeli firms and institutions have soaked up more than $1.45 billion under Horizon 2020, the predecessor of Horizon Europe.
Yet that is not the full extent of the EU’s support for Israel.
The EU awards quality labels to research projects it views favorably but cannot fund because of budgetary constraints. These labels – known as “seals of excellence” – can then help a project receive funding from alternative sources.
Israel has received more than 800 “seals of excellence” under Horizon 2020, according to the paper drafted for Gabriel – see below. That is higher than the number given to any other non-EU country taking part in the program.
The briefing paper for Gabriel states, too, that discussions have been held on possible future cooperation with Israel’s nuclear industry.
An agreement on such cooperation – all carried out discreetly – expired in 2018. “Several meetings have taken place to explore extending the cooperation,” the paper adds.
In theory, all joint research with Israel has been “peaceful.” In reality, Israel has never displayed any commitment to the “peaceful” use of nuclear energy.
The agreement on nuclear cooperation was signed between the EU and Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission. That body runs the Dimona reactor, where Israel’s nuclear weapons were developed.
Because Israel has refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, international inspectors are prohibited from investigating its nuclear activities.
Last year, some figures in the Brussels bureaucracy suggested that Israel may be excluded from the EU’s research activities if it annexed part of the West Bank.
Mariya Gabriel does not seem to have been among those who warned Israel of such repercussions.
In June 2020, Gabriel spoke at an online conference about how the EU and Israel could work together on “green technologies.”
A paper prepared for Gabriel made clear that she was to simply make some opening remarks and that no questions would be taken from viewers. The paper – see below – nonetheless contained a section headed “defensive points.”
It appeared to contain advice on dealing with a query about whether Israel could benefit from EU research funding after an annexation announcement was made. The paper fudged that issue.
“Political considerations can only be taken into account when they become relevant,” it stated.
So far, Gabriel has not had an occasion to waffle in the way her advisers suggested. Benjamin Netanyahu, then Israel’s prime minister, did not go ahead with plans for a formal annexation last year – although Israel’s theft and colonization of Palestinian land continues apace.
The “defensive points” stressed that Israel’s involvement in EU research activities “has always been fruitful” and that it is a “flagship for our bilateral cooperation.”
The upbeat language shows how the EU is determined to keep showering Israel with science grants.
Eight years ago, the Netanyahu government reacted angrily when the EU declared research undertaken by Israelis in the West Bank ineligible for funding.
Israel has found ways around that obstacle. Ariel University has participated in EU activities despite how it is headquartered in a West Bank settlement.
By aiding Ariel – intentionally or not – the EU has enabled Israel’s settlement activities, all of which violate international law.
Yet that issue did not feature at all in the briefing papers prepared for Mariya Gabriel.
Perhaps she would be sad to learn – or be reminded – of that obscenity. Just not sad enough to take any real action.