UGent to stop academic collaborations with Israel, activists call for total boycott

Ghent University intends to end all its cooperations with Israeli institutions, it announced on Thursday evening. The activists occupying university buildings are demanding a total boycott and plan to continue their protests until the university ends its partnerships with Israeli companies too.

Pro-Palestinian activists have been demonstrating at UGent for several weeks in an attempt to persuade the university's leadership to boycott all collaborations with Israeli partners. Rector Rik Van de Walle met with the activists twice, and while three collaborations have been stopped, a general academic boycott was not on the table.

The activists decided to occupy the rector's office last Friday. Police arrested 10 people and there were reports of beatings and injuries. Van de Walle accepted a request for dialogue. After the meeting, he said he wanted to improve UGent's human rights policy and asked for an opinion from its human rights commission.

18 collaborations stopped

"After a new review, UGent wants to stop all ongoing institutional collaborations with Israeli universities and research institutions," the university announced. This concerns 18 multi-partner research collaborations with Israeli partners, including those that do not per se contribute to human rights violations.

"UGent does not want to be involved in the very serious violations of human rights and international law that are taking place in Gaza"

"UGent does not want to be involved in the very serious violations of human rights and international law that are taking place in Gaza," Van de Walle said. "Therefore, UGent does not want to cooperate with partners who are involved in these serious human rights violations."

Protest to continue

However, as UGent will continue cooperating with Israeli companies, the activists have announced that they will continue their protest until these partnerships are stopped as well.

"We demand that UGent also stops its collaborations with 6 Israeli companies. They too contribute to the war, constant human rights violations and suffering in Gaza. We will continue until our demands are met," they said.

UGent has not yet responded to this demand.



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