The announcement on May 10 that Israel has been invited to become a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has been interpreted by many as being a “reward” for Israel entering into proximity talks with the Palestinian Authority.
Nothing could be further from the facts.
The OECD decided to open accession discussions with Israel in May 2007. A Roadmap adopted at the end of November 2007 set out the terms, conditions and process for accession, including in-depth reviews by 18 OECD Committees. Israel has completed all 18 accession reviews in less than three years.
The OECD will welcome Israel at an event on May 27, 2010. An Accession Agreement - scheduled to be signed in Israel on June 29 - will formally acknowledge Israel’s membership of the OECD.
Today the OECD presently comprises 31 countries - including Australia - committed to providing the best possible education, health and employment opportunities for their citizens.
The admission of Israel to the OECD is a direct blow to those seeking to delegitimise Israel by imposing boycotts, undertaking divestment and attempting to exclude Israel from organisations such as the OECD. Virulent criticism of the decision from such sources as well as the Arab world has been constant and unrelenting since the announcement.
Israel’s already impressive credentials were highlighted by the OECD when announcing:
The accession reviews of Israel have also been valuable for OECD countries - the OECD has learned from Israel’s experience in certain areas, such as in the policy areas of innovation and scientific and technological policy. Total civilian R&D expenditures were 4.7 per cent of GDP in 2007, giving Israel the highest R&D intensity in the world. It accounts for the third highest number of scientific articles per million population and has an impressive patenting performance in science and technology. Performance in certain high technology sectors, notably biotechnology, is also particularly strong.
This is remarkable praise and acknowledgment for outstanding achievements in the face of the refusal of the Arab League - with the exception of Egypt and Jordan - to recognise Israel’s existence since its creation 62 years ago.
It is also noteworthy that not one of the 21 member States of the Arab League is a member of the OECD - despite the vast wealth generated from oil revenue in many of those States.
One can only imagine the heights to which Israel would have ascended had not so much of its GDP been squandered on fighting its neighbours and remaining in a constant state of alert by tying up its citizens in compulsory military service.
Significantly the OECD also made the following announcement:
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