Israel Hayom daily reported that more than 150 organisations from 16 nations have petitioned EU legislators to exclude military companies in Israel from a $117 billion research programme. Currently, Israel is part of Horizon 2020, the EU’s development and research initiative.
An open letter from the European Co-ordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine called for an end to the channelling of European taxpayers’ money into military companies, many of which are Israeli, under the guise of research and promises that the “technologies and techniques developed will be used solely for civilian purposes.”
It also called for the EU to exclude Israel from any further research and development programmes, due to the fact that the union consistently “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.”
Signatories to the letter include numerous organisations internationally, including Germany’s ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’, and Britain’s ‘Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods’ (J-BIG). They have requested that the union reduce their programs to be strictly for peace research and civilian security, and eliminate any further research into “border surveillance and dual-use technologies.”
However, excluding Israel from the programme does not inhibit other European countries’ funding for military activities in occupied Palestinian territories. An investigation by Danish independent media and research centre, Danwatch, uncovered information linking Scandinavian pension funds to illegal Israeli settlements in both Jerusalem and the West Bank. It found that funds in Sweden, Holland, Denmark, and Norway were investing up to billions of euros in companies which were involved in these settlements.
This pressure comes as Israel is set to freeze funds for the families of Palestinian prisoners and others killed by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).
Israel set to freeze Palestinian funds
On Monday, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) approved a law which would freeze millions of dollars worth of funds given to Palestinians and their families as welfare payments. Out of 120 legislators, 15 opposed and 87 voted in favour of the new law.
Al Jazeera reports that the new legislation will allow for deductions of money that occupied Palestine allocates to “prisoners and others killed by Israeli forces from taxes collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.”
Arab legislators referred to the bill as “despicable”; while several Israeli legislators argued that the payments, which currently benefit 35,000 Palestinians and total 7% of the Palestinian Authority’s 2018 budget, only encourage violence in the nation.
Palestinian legislator, Hanan Ashrawi, accused Israel of “nothing short of highway robbery”, further declaring “this is real piracy, they are stealing Palestinian funds, it’s not theirs to decide what to do with it, if we were free we wouldn’t need Israel to collect customs.”
Suffering perpetual budget issues, the Palestinian Authority heavily depends on both international aid and tax funds from Israel.