U.S. Slashes Funding For Scientific and Tech Research in West Bank Israeli Institutions
The U.S. in a significant policy shift has decided to cut funding for scientific and technology research conducted in Israeli institutions located in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights.
According to the new guidance, engaging in bilateral scientific and technological cooperation with Israel in geographical areas which came under the administration of Israel after 1967 is inconsistent with United States’ foreign policy.
U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Washington strongly values scientific and technological cooperation with Israel. The funding restriction reflects the long-standing U.S. position that goes back decades. Miller said the U.S. is reverting to its long-standing pre-2020 geographical limitations on United States’ support for activities in those areas.
Israel land-grabbed the West Bank in 1967 and all Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, under the international law, are considered illegal. This decision will affect Ariel University, a major academic institution that was founded in 1982, and other two Israeli institutions in the West Bank.
The funding slash comes amid rising tensions between Israel and Palestine, and increasing Israeli settlement building in the West Bank. Israeli researchers have played an instrumental role in building bridges of collaboration with their American counterparts. These collaborations have been pivotal in addressing shared challenges and advancing knowledge across various scientific disciplines. Funding cuts may hamper this and result in a loss of valuable expertise and knowledge exchange.
The reversal undermines former U.S. president Donald Trump’s policy that rejected the wide international view that Israel illegally occupies the West Bank. While supporters argue the decision aligns with the United States’ commitment to upholding international law and the pursuit of a two-state solution in the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. They believe funding research in the disputed territories would inadvertently legitimize the Israeli occupation and hinder prospects for a peaceful resolution.
But critics, including Republican Senator Ted Cruz called out the Biden administration for anti-Semitic discrimination against the Jews in the West Bank. He accused the ruling party of being “pathologically obsessed with undermining Israel”. Former U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman lashed out at the Biden administration for embracing the activist movement to boycott Israel.
Mike Pompeo, former U.S. secretary of state, has taken strides to normalize Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including allowing their products to be labeled “Made in Israel”. But now, the Biden administration has taken a u-turn, renewing calls for a two-state solution and condemning settlement expansion under PM Benjamin Netanyahu.