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Manipulating EU rules on funding for Israel’s benefit

Stop The Wall has published a detailed summary of the funds that Europe’s research programme Horizon 2020 will be granting to Israel for 205 projects approved by the EU. Among the companies benefiting from EU funding is Elbit Systems, the drone manufacturing company which has played a major role in violating international law through aggression against the Palestinian population and other minority groups worldwide, including, for example, in Latin America.

In December 2014, social movements in Brazil campaigned successfully against Elbit, resulting in their government’s cancellation of a deal with Israel. Spurred by knowledge of the company’s complicity in Operation Protective Edge, the campaign led to the Brazilian government’s cancellation of a research cooperation deal that also included a plan to build a $17 million military satellite. The decision was described by the coordinator of the government’s International Relations Department, Tarson Nuñéz, as “a logical consequence” driven by the Brazilian government’s recognition of peace and human rights. While the statement is an exaggeration of the Brazilian commitment to human rights, given the government’s abuse of its citizens prior to last year’s FIFA World Cup, as well as its willingness to cooperate with Elbit despite knowing about its involvement in murky activities, Israel has, at least temporarily, lost an international collaborator.

The EU guidelines on funding Israeli research projects are deliberately misleading and reinforce opposition to “occupation” selectively without delving into the ramifications of colonisation. According to the guidelines, Israel’s eligibility should be assessed against “EU positions and commitments in conformity with international law on the non-recognition by the EU of Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967.”

Europe’s insistence upon internationally-recognised timeframes and terminology is giving Israel, through its companies, impunity to reinforce its domination not only on Palestinian territory but also internationally. Elbit, which is a prime collaborator of the colonial surveillance system, including the illegal wall, settlements, drone wars and torture, continues to thrive upon international acceptance and collaboration. This facilitates Israel’s use of Palestinian territory and people as a laboratory for experimentation through which the settler-colonial state can perfect its arms, ammunition and delivery systems for maiming and murdering Palestinians.

Ironically, the EU Commission stipulates that, “In accordance with rules drawn up by the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and the European Commission, funding for projects under Horizon 2020 can only be drawn for research that will be applied for civilian purposes only.”

In EU and Israeli rhetoric, “civilian purposes” is a thinly-veiled reference to both entities’ support for and accomplishment of colonial endeavours. Allowing Elbit to be a recipient of EU funding not only makes a mockery out of the guidelines allegedly safeguarding human rights but is also a blatant example of EU complicity in Israel’s colonisation process. In the same vein, the concept of research has been whitewashed to avoid distinctions in how it is applied; hence the convenient inclusion of “civilian purposes” to serve any form of violation possible to strengthen Israel’s fabricated existence and narrative.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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