The German government has continued to give grants to Israeli high-tech and scientific companies, yet stated that those located in settlements in the West Bank or East Jerusalem would not be eligible for funding, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Thursday.
The newspaper, which called this step an escalation in German policy regarding settlements, reported Israeli fears that this move would lead other EU countries to follow Germany.
Israel signed Horizon 2020, an agreement on scientific cooperation, with the EU a few weeks ago. The agreement prohibits funding academic research conducted in settlements. Recently, Berlin extended the boycott on funding activities conducted over the Green Line.
Haaretz said that Germany offers generous funds for scientific research in Israel. At the same time it reported that Israeli government officials are currently discussing the issue with Berlin to persuade them to rescind the boycott.
According to Haaretz the German government told Israel that it had been exposed to considerable pressure by German academic institutions when it recognised Ariel College located in one of the West Bank settlements. Thus, the boycott decision came to reassure those institutions.
Meanwhile EU ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg Andersen, said that the EU would cut aids should Israeli settlement in the West Bank continue and the ongoing peace talks collapse.
"If Israel were to go down the road of continued settlement expansion and were there not to be any result from the current talks, I am afraid that what will transpire is a situation in which Israel will find itself increasingly isolated," Andersen said.
"If the talks are wrecked as a result of Israeli settlement announcements then the blame will be put squarely on Israel's doorstep," he said. "You are eating away at the cake that you are discussing how to slice up."
On Wednesday the Israeli government announced the building of 261 settlement units in the occupied West Bank.