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Israel joins EU cultural program which excludes Jewish settlements in the West Bank

Settlers say the Bennett-Lapid government’s decision is “discriminatory” and "undermines Israel’s sovereignty”

A view of new buildings in the Jewish settlement Shifet Rahil, south of Nablus, May 10 2022., (Photo: Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Israel is set to join a flagship culture program of the European Union, despite its exclusion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

As part of the EU’s ‘Creative Europe’ program, Israeli artists in every cultural genre are expected to be granted millions of euros for their endeavors and collaborations with European artists. The program will also fund joint Israeli-European film festivals and support translation of Hebrew literature to various languages spoken across Europe.

The Israeli government unanimously approved the move in a Cabinet meeting on Sunday as it considers the program to be an essential step toward increasing its cooperation with Europe by developing Israel's cultural scene and giving Israeli artists a chance to showcase their talents on a bigger stage, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

In order to enter the cultural exchange initiative, Israel will reportedly have to pay an annual admission fee of some 1.6 million euros. 

Albeit the EU program leaves out projects that take place or originate from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights — areas beyond the 1967 borders which the EU does not recognize as Israeli territory. 

The government vowed to compensate Israeli artists ineligible to receive EU funding due to their place of work or residence, according to an article published in The Jerusalem Post. 

However, the Cabinet’s decision drew the ire of some settler leaders, who decried it as "discriminatory."

"I demand that the Israeli government annul this decision and announce that it will not sign with any country in the world or with the European Union an agreement that humiliates the State of Israel, undermines its sovereignty and discriminates against and excludes its creators and filmmakers," Yossi Dagan, head of the Shomron Regional Council in the West Bank, told Israeli outlets.  

He added that "any decent person will agree that [the government] cannot sign discriminatory agreements that humiliate the State of Israel." 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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