Germany is insisting that research support and cooperation with Israel exclude Jewish settlements built on Palestinian land, Israeli media said Thursday, weeks ahead of a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
According to the report in Haaretz daily, Berlin's decision "represents a significant escalation in European measures against the settlements" in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Haaretz notes that a 1986 treaty of the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Developement states that the foundation will only sponsor projects "within the geographic areas under the jurisdiction of the State of Israel" prior to the 1967 Middle East war.
The Germans want to apply that clause to the "German-Israeli funding programme (DIP)", an agreement signed in 1970 that is renewed annually on March 31, as well as to an agreement between the states providing "German funding for industrial and applied research and development," Haaretz said.
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Merkel is due in Israel at the end of next month.
Germany's steadfast support of Israel has been a constant since World War II in atonement for its Nazi past, and Berlin is widely seen as the Jewish state's closest ally in Europe.
Haaretz said the German demand was effectively extending the settlement ban to "private companies" in occupied territories.
But an Israeli diplomatic source told AFP there was "nothing new here" since "the territorial limitations have applied since 1986 and nothing has changed."
And a spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry said Berlin had "a great interest in continuing and expanding scientific cooperation with Israel."