Report: Germany pressuring Israeli high-tech companies over settlements

BERLIN (JTA) — Germany reportedly is raising pressure on the high-tech community in Israel over its government’s settlement policy.

Germany is linking support for private high-tech and scientific projects in Israel to the condition that the projects not be located in West Bank settlements or in eastern Jerusalem, Haaretz reported Thursday.

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A spokeswoman for Germany’s Foreign Ministry told JTA that “Germany has a strong interest in continuing and expanding its scientific cooperation with Israel. It represents great potential for both parties. In addition, we are continuing our close discussions with our Israeli partners.”

The spokeswoman would not comment on the reported conditions for cooperation.

At issue, reported Haaretz, are grants for Israeli high-tech firms and the renewal of a scientific cooperation agreement. The report suggested that by extending a funding ban to private companies, the agreement marked an escalation in current European moves to pressure Israel on its settlement policy.

The agreement involves the German Ministry of Science, among others, but JTA queries on the matter were funneled to the Foreign Ministry.

The Israeli Embassy in Berlin declined to comment. A high-level German official told JTA that Germany critiquing Israel’s settlement policy is nothing new.

In March 2011, the German railway firm DB International — a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s privatized railway — withdrew from a rapid train project in Israel that reportedly was to pass through Palestinian lands.