154 Organizations Call For EU to Stop Funding Israeli Military
As many as 154 organizations from 16 countries have urged The European Union (E.U.) to exclude Israel from bloc-funded research and development funding which the organizations claim is used to fund Israeli military initiatives, as Israel’s Hayom Daily reported.
Israel is part of Horizon 2020, the current E.U. scientific research and development initiative, but activists are calling for the E.U. to exclude Israel from the next research and development program. The program is called Horizon Europe and will provide total funds in the amount of $117 billion from 2021 to 2027.
Through the E.U. research and development initiatives, the organizations claim Brussels has provided funding for the Jewish state’s military and security-industrial research for many years.
“European taxpayers’ money is being channeled to military companies, among them many Israeli corporations, under the disguise of research and a promise that the technologies and techniques developed will be used solely for civilian purposes,” the statement in the letter signed by those organizations said.
European Commission data showed that 943 million Euros of research funding was allocated to Israeli ‘legal entities’ for their role in European research projects from 2000 to 2013. There were 23 Israeli firms involved in European research projects, and five of them are weapon-related firms.
Should the E.U. drop Israel from the initiative, Israeli firms will risk losing billions of dollars of financial support for research and innovation programs.
Does The E.U. Fund the Israeli Military?
The letter signed by the 154 organizations stated that the E.U’s research funding in the past had been channeled to funding projects serving military interests, as opposed to funding projects with civilian applications as well.
”One of the ways in which arms and military companies have gained access to EU funding is through the current EU Program for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020. This includes many Israeli military companies. Although the EU claims that research funds have gone only to projects with civilian applications, many of the projects approved are of dual-use nature serving military interests as well. Many others serve policies that curb or violate refugees’ rights and militarize our societies,” the letter said.
“There are many indications that the EU’s ‘border control’ policies are built on concepts and technologies that violate human rights. … Well-documented reports show how Israeli companies have a unique selling strategy, capitalizing on the fact that Israeli technology is ‘battle-proven’ during illegal actions and policies of ‘border control’ and ‘population control’ in the context of occupation and colonization.
”Israeli military and homeland security companies, such as the Israel Aerospace Industries, have played a role in fortifying the borders of Bulgaria and Hungary, in the EU maritime surveillance programs, and in Frontex [the European Border and Coast Guard Agency] in general. The EU refuses to take into account the grave misconduct of companies as well as the origin and possible destination of such technology thereby violating its own rules and regulations.”
Meanwhile, European nations have indirectly funded Israel’s military activities in the occupied Palestinian territories. According to an investigation conducted by Danish media outlet Danwatch, pension funds in Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden have invested in 36 firms involved in the construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Belgium, Spain and Portugal were once involved in a five-million Euro project called Lawtrain. The project brought together the Israeli Ministry for Public Security and the Israeli National Police to cooperate with their counterparts from those European countries to develop technology for police interrogations.
This program triggered protests from civil organizations in Portugal and Belgium, demanding their governments to stop their involvement in such a project.
Israel Hits Back
Israel called the effort to remove the Jewish state from the E.U. research and development initiative anti-Israel and anti-Semitic and politically motivated by pro-Palestinian organizations.
“This is an anti-Israel and anti-Semitic initiative and we must fight it using every resource at our disposal,” Israel’s Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis said on Sunday.
Previously, Israel slammed the E.U. for funding non-profit organizations they allege have links to terrorism in a report on May 27. The study was released when the bloc’s foreign ministers held a meeting in Brussels to discuss the latest situation in Gaza.
The Isreali report called the Money Trail said these organizations had “known ties to terror groups” Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which the E.U. and U.S. lists as terrorist entities.
The NGO’s countered back, accusing Israel of manipulating information and spreading a propaganda smear campaign intended to discredit any criticism of Israel.
“The intent is clear: to criminalize criticism [of Israeli actions],” Daniel Seidemann, an attorney who runs Israeli NGO Territorial Jerusalem, which works with EU diplomats, told EUobserver.
Israel’s Response to Horizon Europe Criticism
As for Israel’s response to the campaign to remove them from Horizon Europe, Israel’s Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen said, “The Palestinian campaign, which they launch every year, stems from their frustration at Israeli innovation – how it boosts Israel’s economy and how much it contributes to humanity.”
”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,” Cohen added.
”Israel is a key player in global innovation and we will continue to promote international programs similar to those promoted in Europe, which benefit everyone,” Cohen continued. “This technological and scientific partnership is of great value for Israel and for Europe.”