Israel ready to withdraw from EU deal worth millions over anti-settlement clause

A senior Israeli minister has said the country is prepared to pull out of a multi-million pound European Union research project over the EU's new guidelines on settlements.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin said Israel wanted to take part in the Horizon 2020 science project, but would do so only if the EU scrapped the guidelines, which force Israel to accept its borders do not extend over the Green Line.

On Thursday, a special meeting of ministers convened by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to reject entering agreements with the EU unless it "clarifies" its stance on Israeli organisations beyond the Green Line.

Regarding the £69 million Horizon 2020 project, Mr Elkin told told Israel Radio: "We want to sign and we are ready to negotiate, but if the conditions are as they are today, which are unprecedented… we can’t sign.”

The seven-year programme is due to begin in 2014, with Israel as the only non-EU country participating. Failure to join the research could have a "devastating" impact on Israel's scientific standing, academics have warned.

Discussions are expected to continue in the coming days, with an Israeli decision likely to be delivered to Brussels early next week.

Last updated: 1:10pm, August 9 2013