The Middle East Regional Cooperation (MERC) Program – managed by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented with the support of the U.S Embassy in Israel – promotes cooperation between Arab and Israeli scientists, technicians, students, and communities by supporting joint research grants that address regional development challenges. MERC was authorized by the U.S. Congress in 1979 after the Camp David Accords to support Israel-U.S.-Egyptian scientific cooperation, and expanded in 1993 to include the broader MENA region. To date, the MERC program has awarded grants between partners in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and the West Bank and Gaza.
In 2021, the MERC Program commissioned an assessment looking back over 40 years of support for joint Arab-Israeli research and asked two main questions: (1) has MERC built results-oriented research capacity in partner Arab research institutions?, and (2) what degree of cooperation has been achieved between Arab and Israeli researchers? This presentation will provide highlights from that assessment, share examples of outcomes from MERC-supported research, and discuss how the program is adapting in light of a changing region and world.