Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is considering a boycott of the EU Research and Development Horizon 2020 programme. The move is being seen as a possible response to Europe's boycott of Israeli companies and goods sourced from the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
According to Maariv, time is running out for the ministry to make a decision as the programme's first meeting is due to be held on August 14. This, claims the newspaper, suggests that there is pressure from within for Israel to pull out of the R&D scheme.
Israel is the only non-European full partner in Horizon 2020 and the government stands to lose €1 billion if it decides not to take part. There is a possibility that the initial meeting will be boycotted as a gesture to put pressure on the EU to ease its restrictions on entities operating out of illegal settlements.
The R&D programme's budget will reach €80 billion, with a 40 per cent increase over its predecessor. Israel's designated role in the programme is to pay €600 million to support university research in EU countries; for every shekel that Israel contributes, it is expected to get back 1.5 shekels in research funds and other investments.