April 18, 2011

Israel Accepted In CERN Membership

"Israel is joining an exclusive club, which provides unusual visibility, exposure, prestige and international status," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in announcing the cabinet decision that it had approved the country's membership in the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), becoming the research group's first non-European delegation, AFP is reporting.

Netanyahu tells AFP that membership in the organization, reflected the "capabilities of Israeli scientists and constitutes recognition of their ability."

Previously, Israel held only special observer status at the organization known for its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which is installed in a tunnel straddling the Franco-Swiss border.

First joining the organization in 1991 as an observer state, Israel became a special observer state in 2009, gaining the right to attend restricted sessions discussing the LHC.

The Jewish state has faced many hurdles in its bid to become a member, including French fears that Israeli access to CERN tenders could affect France's hi-tech industry, according to the Jerusalem Post. Switzerland reportedly expressed initial opposition to Israeli membership, citing Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

A final invitation process is needed for the country to become a full member in 2013, after two years as an associate member. Membership decisions are reached through consensus, and the member states will again have to be in full agreement for Israel to gain final acceptance at that time.

A $15 million annual fee is expected to be paid to CERN and although not an insignificant amount of money, Israeli officials say that it will be more than made up for by contracts that will stem from membership which is also expected to provide a boost to Israel's scientific research capabilities.


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