NIS 50 million in matching funds are needed to achieve goal, MK tells committee.
Jordanian scientists are eager to see a new research center built in Eilat and to cooperate with it, MK Manuel Trajtenberg told the Knesset Science and Technology Committee on Tuesday.

The lawmaker, who is an economist by training and former chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education, said that “Eilat is a unique place.” The Canadians, who established the largest marine science research center in the world, would love to see a center built in Eilat, he said.

Trajtenberg, who was speaking in honor of the committee’s marking of Eilat Day and discussed a plan to build a Red Sea research center there, said he knows a philanthropist who is willing to invest “a lot of money” in such work but that NIS 50 million in Israeli matching funds are missing. “When we are fighting the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement, there is nothing that would empower Israel more than a marine biology research center in Eilat,” he said. “I call on the government to discuss the matter.”

Prof. Amatzia Genin, an ecological science expert and head of the interuniversity marine science center in Eilat, said that “we cooperate with Jordanian scientists in the field, and we would be happy to cooperate with an institute that is being built now in Saudi Arabia.”

“Being so close to the sea, much marine research can be conducted there,” he added. The interuniversity center has published 1,700 scientific articles that were published in important marine science journals around the world. “Hundreds of students want to study there, and there are 2.5 applicants for every one we can take in.”

Students have studied the sea anemone and “discovered that it is not stung by jellyfish because it has a chemical that prevents this.

They isolated the material, and today there is on the market such a substance to prevent jellyfish stings,” Genin said.

Committee chairman Uri Maklev said he wanted to “help in the development of Eilat and not just to celebrate Eilat Day. The human and marine resources there have to be advanced.”