No Academic Business as Usual with Ariel University and all other Israeli Academic Institutions Illegally Built on Occupied Palestinian Land

A Call from Palestine

29 November 2018

On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, we call on states, academic institutions and multilateral research bodies to withdraw any existing recognition of and end all institutional relations with Ariel University and other Israeli academic institutions illegally built on occupied Palestinian land.

The obligation of non-recognition and non-assistance of unlawful situations " is a fundamental precept of international law, particularly as they relate to Israeli settlements, condemned by the United Nations Security Council as a “flagrant violation of international law.” Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israeli settlements and the transfer of Israeli settlers to occupied territory constitute a war crime.

Ariel University is located in the illegal Israeli settlement of the same name that was built on land stolen from surrounding Palestinian villages and on land Palestinian families have cultivated for generations. Israel’s wall, which was designed in such a way as to annex settlements, including Ariel, to Israel, was declared illegal in 2004 by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It severs Palestinian villages from each other and restricts freedom of movement. Palestinians have to live with the stench of wastewater dumped by Ariel on their agricultural land, destroying their crops, polluting their water sources and harming their health.

The settlements, which rob the Palestinian people of our land and natural resources and deny us our inalienable right to self-determination, are an integral part of Israel’s system of military occupation and colonial oppression dominating all aspects of Palestinian life, in particular education.

Israel’s military checkpoints and wall restrict travel to and from schools and colleges for Palestinian students, researchers and professors. The Israeli occupation authorities prevent Palestinian students in besieged Gaza, where nearly two million people live on four hours of electricity per day on average, from studying at Palestinian universities in the West Bank or from leaving Gaza for universities abroad.

Since the start of the current academic year, Israel has denied entry or refused to renew visas for scores of faculty members of Palestinian universities holding foreign passports.

Ariel University contributes significantly to Israel’s denial of the fundamental right of academic freedom for Palestinians.

The European Union and the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation exclude Israeli academic institutions in the occupied Palestinian territory, such as Ariel University, from grants and joint research programs.

Israeli academic associations, including the Israeli Anthropological Association and the Israeli Sociological Society, as well as 1200 Israeli academics, have shunned Ariel University and refuse to cooperate with it.

In a near-unanimous vote (830-21), the European Association of Social Anthropologists membership pledged non-cooperation with Israeli academic institutions in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Earlier this year, Kasetsart University in Bangkok ended its partnership with Ariel University for a Women’s Study Conference.

In 2012, the Technical University of Denmark ended a joint research project with Ariel University.

These measures were taken in recognition of the fact that collaborating with Ariel University necessarily means normalizing Israel’s illegal policies that deny Palestinian rights. We therefore call specifically on:

Governments and the European Union to condition agreements with the Israeli Council for Higher Education on non-recognition and non-accreditation of Ariel University.

Ministries of education worldwide not to accredit Ariel University’s diplomas.

International academic institutions and research centers to end all institutional links to Ariel University, including joint research, recognition of diplomas, invitations, visits and conferences.

International academics to refrain from participating in any activity/project fully or partially sponsored/organized by Ariel University or in which its representatives are participating.

Academic journals not to recognize Ariel University and to insist that submissions from academics affiliated to Ariel University must include the fact that it is located in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Background information:

Founded in 1982 as a branch of Bar-Ilan University, Ariel University Center of Samaria became an independent college in 2004. In 2012, it was granted accreditation by the so-called “Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria,” i.e. the occupied West Bank.

Ariel University is built on occupied Palestinian territory and is therefore built in violation of international law. In February 2018, the Israeli parliament passed a law placing Ariel University — along with two other colony-colleges, Herzog College, and Orot Israel College — under the auspices of Israel’s Council for Higher Education.

Ze’ev Elkin, Jerusalem Affairs Minister in Netanyahu’s far-right government, celebrated the Knesset vote on the matter tweeting that after "applying Israeli sovereignty on Ariel University, let’s begin to apply Israeli sovereignty on Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.”

According to B’Tselem, Israel’s leading human rights organization, Ariel, the illegal colony where the current university is based, was established in 1978 on Palestinian land that was seized “under the false pretext of imperative military needs and on land that was declared state land.” Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian or Syrian territory constitute war crimes.

Ariel University is expected to double in size over the next 5 years, thanks to a 20-million-dollar donation from US billionaire and Israeli settlement supporter Sheldon Adelson and a solid commitment by the far-right Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett.

Signatories:

- the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education,

- the Council of Palestinian Universities’ Presidents,

- the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE), and

- the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC).

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