US reinstates ban on research funding for projects in Israel occupied West Bank News
Ralf Roletschek, GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons
US reinstates ban on research funding for projects in Israel occupied West Bank

According to the Israeli news site Walla, the US State Department has reinstated a ban on US government research funding going to support research projects conducted in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The decision is a significant reversal of a former US President Donald Trump-era policy, instituted in 2020, which had allowed research funding in the West Bank.

Walla claims that the Israeli government was informed of the decision two weeks ago but it did not become public until Sunday. However, Walla has alleged that the decision was made two years ago, but had not been enforced until Israeli officials were informed.

The ban will mainly impact three organizations: the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD), the Binational Science Foundation (BSF) and the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Foundation (BARD). These organizations had previously conducted research in partnership with Ariel University, in the West Bank. These three foundations were formed in the 1970s to facilitate scientific research cooperation between the US and Israel.

In a press conference, Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen stated, “I object to the decision and think it is wrong. In similar cases in the past, the Israeli government fully reimbursed parties damaged by such decisions.” US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has also condemned the decision, saying, “Joe Biden and Biden administration officials are pathologically obsessed with undermining Israel. Since day one of their administration they have launched campaigns against our Israeli allies that are granular, whole of government, and done in secret.” Cruz went on to call the move “antisemitic discrimination.”

The US State Department has yet to officially comment on the reports as of writing, however, an anonymous official with the State Department told Axios:

This guidance is simply reflective of the longstanding U.S. position … that the ultimate disposition of the geographic areas which came under the administration of Israel after June 5, 1967 is a final status matter and that we are working towards a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state

The reports come shortly after Israel announced new plans to expand settlements in the West Bank, despite international pressure. The committee that approves expansion plans is expected to vote on the proposal Monday. There has been a sharp increase in violence in the West Bank, with a June 20 attack, committed by Hamas, killing four Israeli civilians in the area and Israeli security forces raiding a refugee camp, killing seven Palestinians and injuring 91.