EU now funds Israel’s war ministry

The European Union is financing Israeli bodies that oversee home demolitions and other crimes against the Palestinian people. 

Abedalrahman Hassan APA images

Two years ago, Benjamin Netanyahu was heard complaining that the European Union was “crazy” for attaching “political conditions” to its relations with Israel. By the prime minister’s yardstick, matters have become less “crazy” since then: the EU has quietly expanded the financial support it gives to Israeli government bodies directly responsible for oppressing Palestinians.

Israel’s defense ministry has just begun drawing down European Union cash for the first time.

It is among the beneficiaries of a new $9 million research scheme on using drones during disasters. Known as Respondrone, the scheme is being financed under the EU’s science program Horizon 2020.

The “political conditions” of which Netanyahu complained are respect for basic human rights. By providing money to Israel’s defense ministry, the EU is helping out a major human rights abuser.

If the English language was used accurately, the defense ministry would be called the ministry for war crimes and occupation.

It is tasked with strengthening Israel’s army. In other words, the ministry is dedicated to making an extremely aggressive army even more lethal.

Not content with occupying the West Bank and Gaza, Israel’s army has bombed Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Sudan since the beginning of this millennium – when the EU supposedly began applying those “crazy” conditions. Israel has also killed Turkish humanitarian activists in international waters.

Subsidizing the ministry which oversees that army is tantamount to approving its crimes.

The Respondrone project kicked off in May. The following month the EU’s embassy in Tel Aviv held a ceremony to celebrate how Israel’s researchers have received more than $820 million from Horizon 2020.

Curiously, the material for the event posted on the embassy’s website does not mention that the EU is now funding Israel’s defense ministry.

Reticent

The EU’s representatives have been similarly reticent about the support they offer to Israel’s ministry for “public security.”

That ministry provides guidance to Israel’s police and prison service. During the past few weeks, Israel’s police have conducted daily raids on the West Bank village of Issawiyeh, participated in the demolition of Palestinian buildings in East Jerusalem and evicted a family living near Jerusalem’s Old City so that its home could be handed over to Jewish settlers.

The prison service, meanwhile, runs facilities where torture is routine.

Nassar Taqatqa is the latest Palestinian detainee to die in one such facility. Investigating how he died is impossible as the Israeli authorities are holding on to his body.

If it wished to, the EU could exert pressure on Israel to cease blocking the investigation that is so urgently needed. Israel’s public security ministry is scheduled to take part in an EU-funded project worth almost $8 million, starting from next month.

Named Roxanne, the project will examine how advancements in technology can help identify the members of criminal networks. Its other participants will include police from both the north and south of Ireland, Greece and the Czech Republic and the international law enforcement body Interpol.

As a bare minimum, the EU should tell Israel that it will not be welcome in this scheme so long as it retains Nassar Taqatqa’s body. But Israel’s public security ministry should not be involved in any EU-financed crime-fighting projects, considering that it provides bureaucratic back-up to such war crimes as home demolitions and raids against a people under occupation.

The EU’s embassy in Tel Aviv prides itself on encouraging innovation among Israel’s “start-up” companies. The embassy does not draw attention to how quite a few of these firms have strong connections to the Israeli military.

Cottage industries?

For example, the EU has awarded a grant to TuneFork, a Jerusalem-based firm. That firm has the laudable aim of helping people with hearing difficulties enjoy listening to music on the Internet as much as possible.

Anything but laudable, TuneFork’s CEO Tomer Shor honed his skills as an innovator with the technology development arm of Israel’s military – Unit 8200, as it is known.

The EU does not confine itself with aiding cottage industries. Israel Aerospace Industries, a manufacturer of drones used during Israel’s offensives against Gaza, is taking part in at least three EU-financed projects at the moment. They include the aforementioned Respondrone scheme, which also involves Israel’s defense ministry, and a separate project on enhancing the safety of “mass market drones.”

Elbit Systems, another leading Israeli warplane maker, belongs to a consortium involved with a $10 million project on “securing the European gas network.”

Among Israel’s colleges milking Horizon 2020 are the Technion in the city of Haifa. A promotional brochure from the Technion boasts of its “exceptionally close ties” to Israel’s military and that it is the “sole source of aerospace engineers in Israel” – a euphemism for tomorrow’s weapons makers.

The EU’s representatives know full well that their support for Israel is loathsome yet they will not admit it. Doing so would spoil the ambience at all those events where they sip champagne and spout platitudes about “innovation.”

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Comments

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What is the EU doing using our money to fund Israeli terrorism? Who asked the voters in the EU if they agree with this? There are many unmet needs in EU countries. The EU electorate should be asked how it wants the money to be spent. Why should Respondrone be offered to Israel? Why not Algeria or Iran?
Of course, this is an example of the elites ruling the world. "Representatives" of the EU make these decision. Their motivation is much more sinister than sipping Champagne and nibbling canapes: it is to reinforce the power of elites to make decisions over the heads of the common folk. Whether those elites engage in illegal occupation or torture, is of no matter. Who in the EU has asked the voters what its approach to Israel should be? Here we have the assumption that the elites know better, that there is no need to consult , that foreign policy is too complicated for the common people.
Every EU citizen should protest to their MEPs about this and demand an explanation. The EU gets away with the behaviour because the people don't know about it. The essence of rule by the elites is the concealment of details. Vague, broad statements and recycled to reassure electorates, but the details are kept from the voters. Contact your MEP, write to the papers, use social media, ensure as many people as possible in the EU know their money is being used to uphold injustice. In that regard, why has this story not appeared prominently in mainstream media? Where is responsible journalism when the power of the elites needs to be challenged? Of course, there is a media elites which colludes with those it recognises as its own. As ever, it's up to the common folk to do the work and to see justice prevails.

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Why is EU giving aid to human rights violators?
On your website 1.86 million euros are going to human rights violators, in drone research. This will help them violate more
https://cordis.europa.eu/proje...

REPLY
In reply to your message, we would like to inform you that Israel`s
participation in the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020 is governed by
the Agreement on Israel`s Association to the Programme signed in June
2014 on the basis of which the Israeli legal entities may participate
in the programme. In addition, their participation is governed by the
July 2013 Guidelines on the eligibility of Israeli entities and their
activities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 for
grants, prizes and financial instruments funded by the EU from 2014
onwards. In addition, to be eligible for participation in Horizon 2020,
Israeli legal entities may not carry out research activities from
Horizon 2020 projects in the Occupied Territories.
Several mechanisms have been put in place to prevent that EU funds are
used for activities that could be contrary to international law. All
projects, most of which are of a collaborative nature involving
participants from a number of different countries, are selected on the
basis of excellence. Eligible proposals are evaluated by a panel of
external independent experts. In addition, all projects selected for
funding undergo an ethical review. The ethical review of these projects
covers several ethics issues including an assessment of the possible
dual-use of the proposed research and compliance with applicable EU,
national and international legislation, including the European Charter
of Fundamental Rights. In addition under Article 19(2) of Regulation
(EU) 1291/2013, all activities carried out under Horizon 2020 must have
an exclusive focus on civil applications.

Kind regards,
Nuno Teixeira

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