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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Atom Smash! Israel Becomes Associate Member of CERN

On Friday, September 16, Israel signed an agreement in Geneva with CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, becoming an associate member of the organization, in preparation for its acceptance as a full member. Ambassador Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva, signed the agreement on behalf of the government of Israel.

The signing of the agreement with CERN is the climax of a long and challenging process by various Israel government ministries and must be ratified by the Knesset to take effect.

“It is a vital part of our mission to build bridges between nations. This agreement enriches us scientifically, and is an important step in that direction,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. “I am very pleased that CERN’s relationship with Israel is moving to a higher level.”

“I am very happy with this decision,” said Eliezer Rabinovici, Professor and Director of the Institute for Advanced Study at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Israel’s scientific observer to Council. “I view it as recognition of the Israeli contributions, both scientific and technological to CERN over the years. The Israeli scientific community is looking forward to the continuation of this joint adventure.”

Said Ambassador Leshno-Yaar, “The agreement is testimony to Europe’s recognition of Israel’s scientific and technological capabilities, of the quality of its scientists, and of its contribution throughout many years to the research activities of CERN.”

For the past two decades of Israel’s involvement with CERN, prior to its membership, Israel worked to send mixed Israeli-Palestinian contingents to CERN’s summer student program.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (the acronym CERN derives from its French name), is located under Geneva, Switzerland and is best known for its Large Hadron Collider. The LHC is unquestionably mankind’s most ambitious scientific experiment, aiming to recreate the very milliseconds after the big bang to answer some of the universe’s most perplexing questions. Twenty-seven kilometers in circumference, all 100 meters below ground, the LHC’s team consists of thousands of scientists from over 100 countries. CERN itself currently has 20 member states, and Israel is on its way to being number 21.