Keep West Bank settlement university out of Horizon, say scholars

Open letter on Ariel University from academics across Europe and Israel says EU has acted against its own position on settlements

March 23, 2021
European Commission in Brussels
Source: iStock

Hundreds of academics have written an open letter calling for the European Union to stop recognising and giving research funding to Ariel University, which is located in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

More than 500 scholars, from over 20 European countries and other nations, including Israel, have signed the letter, published online by Times Higher Education, which demands that the EU stops allowing its research funding programmes to be used to “legitimise or otherwise sustain the establishment and the activities of Israeli academic institutions in illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT)”.

They highlight several examples of Ariel University being involved in Horizon 2020 projects and say that the institution was listed as being located in Israel on project material. They condemn the failure of the European Commission “to properly instruct against, monitor for, and rectify” transgressions against the EU’s non-recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the OPT.

The signatories add that Ariel University should not be involved in Horizon 2020’s successor research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe, which will run from this year until 2027.

“Authoritative Palestinian higher education bodies, supported by prominent academics, are calling on international institutions not to recognise Ariel University and to abstain from giving effect to its pretensions of institutional legitimacy,” they say.

“At a time when the EU is finalising Horizon 2020’s successor, the €100 billion [£86 billion] Horizon Europe programme, we urge the EU Commission, Parliament and Council to devise, fund and implement the effective monitoring of participating research projects and hold transgressors accountable.”

Israel has previously courted further controversy by bringing Ariel University under the auspices of its Council for Higher Education, ending the role of the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria. Critics argued that this move, in 2018, amounted to the first annexation to Israel of a part of the occupied territories in 50 years.

Ariel has been subjected to a boycott by the UK’s University and College Union, and its researchers had to withdraw from a conference in London in 2014 after being told that they could not mention their institutional affiliation.

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Reader's comments (1)

Two articles on the settler university: These were written a few years ago but still make valid points.


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