(Al-Monitor) ,On Oct. 28, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador David Friedman stood beside each other in the open air of Ariel University’s events square to write yet another chapter in the emerging story of de facto American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank.
The official reason for this celebration was the signing of an official agreement lifting bans that prevented scientific collaboration between Israel and the United States in the West Bank and Golan Heights. The ban had prevented Ariel from receiving US financial aid because of its geographical location. But behind the need to correct this situation in the name of “science” was a resounding political statement that took place just six days before the US presidential election.
For the first time, funding for research and development will be made available to universities and other institutes of higher learning in Judea and Samaria, effectively lifting the US academic boycott of the region.
The terms of this decision were worked out behind the scenes over the last few years. Given the difficulties along the way, it was only finalized recently, in the shadow of the impending US election. Should President Donald Trump lose, the settlers would lose the best friend they ever had in the White House. Sources familiar with the move say that it was pushed forward by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, one of Ariel University’s biggest donors and a close friend of both President Donald Trump and Netanyahu. Apparently, he pressured the US administration to sign the agreement before the presidential election.