Adonis Diaries

EU clinched a secret Nuclear deal with Israeli ministry in East Jerusalem: Why and how the EU is still behaving against the tide?

Posted on: September 12, 2021

David Cronin Rights and Accountability

 7 September 2021

The European Union has quietly negotiated a cooperation deal with an Israeli government ministry based in occupied East Jerusalem.

While the agreement received wide support in the Brussels bureaucracy, some officials have contended that it may not be signed with a body located on territory seized during the 1967 War.

In 2018, the EU’s Joint Research Centre – which runs a network of laboratories – entered into talks with Israel’s science and technology ministry.

The objective was to reach an accord that would enable collaboration in “multiple areas of common interest,” an internal EU paper states.

The paper, obtained under freedom of information rules, indicates that such an accord was drafted and circulated during 2019 within the European Commission, as the EU’s executive is called.

All 11 of the European Commission’s departments consulted about the draft accord provided a “positive opinion,” the paper – see below – states.

However, the EU’s diplomatic service and in-house lawyers made a request “to change the Israeli counterpart.” They objected, the paper adds, because Israel’s science ministry has its registered address on Clermont-Ganneau Street – near Ammunition Hill in East Jerusalem.

Should these diplomats and lawyers be commended for advocating that a distinction be drawn between Israel and the territories it captured in June 1967?

The short answer is “no.”

Their worries about the location of a ministry in an area under military occupation are negated by their general willingness to embrace Israel, the state enforcing that occupation.

“Untapped potential”

It should be underscored that the diplomats and lawyers were only arguing against signing a formal contract with the science ministry. They did not stipulate that interacting with the ministry must be avoided.

Stephen Quest from the Joint Research Centre confirmed that his organization is “still in contact with the Ministry of Science and Technology, although the COVID-19 pandemic and elections in Israel between 2019 and 2021 have affected the frequency of interactions and discussions on formal arrangements.”

Responding to a query by email, Quest stated that the Joint Research Centre had consulted other departments in the European Commission about “the form, not the content of collaboration with the Ministry of Science and Technology.”

In 2013, the EU’s diplomatic service gave the green light to contact with the science ministry. The ministry is represented in the Israeli body that manages the use of research funding from the European Union.

The EU has a new ambassador to Israel, Dimiter Tzantchev.

Shortly after arriving in Tel Aviv, he remarked that EU-Israel ties are “already so deep yet still hold a lot of untapped potential.”

Tzantchev did not elaborate when I asked him to explain what “untapped potential” he had in mind.

Yet the activities of the EU’s Joint Research Centre offer a clue as to what is being considered.

David Cronin is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada. His books include Balfour’s Shadow: A Century of British Support for Zionism and Israel and Europe’s Alliance with Israel: Aiding the Occupation.

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September 2021

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