Israel's Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis has instructed his office "to devise ways to counter efforts" by Palestine solidarity activists in Europe to exclude the state from a forthcoming European Union research and development initiative, reported Israel Hayom.
According to the paper, "hundreds of European Parliament members recently received a letter, signed by 154 groups, organisations and unions from 16 countries, urging them to ban Israeli companies, especially defence contractors, from EU framework programmes".
Israel is currently part of the EU's R&D initiative, Horizon 2020, with the next programme, so-called FP9, "will run from 2021 to 2027 and lays the foundation for Horizon Europe, an ambitious €100 billion ($116 billion) research and innovation program meant to succeed Horizon 2020".
According to Israel Hayom, "Israeli officials are concerned that if the pro-Palestinian activists have their way, Israel will lose billions of dollars in technological and scientific R&D grants."
"This is an anti-Israel and anti-Semitic initiative and we must fight it using every resource at our disposal," Akunis said Sunday, stressing the importance of "public diplomacy efforts directed at the European capitals" to fight the Palestine solidarity campaigning.
Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen added: "As Israeli technology moves forward with global inventions in the fields of medicine, water, cyber and agriculture, the Palestinians are stuck in the Stone Age, digging tunnels and flying kites."