Attempt to expel Israeli architects fails

A long-running dispute sparked by calls for a boycott of Israel has resurfaced following attempts to expel Israelis from the International Union of Architects (UIA).

A motion likening Israeli actions to those of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe collapsed due to a lack of support at a major conference in Turin last month.

London-based Abe Hayeem, chair of the Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP) lobby group, proposed the motion.

He said: "We asked our colleagues in Israel to observe international law and end their building in the Occupied Territories to the great suffering of the Palestinians."

He admitted saying that there was "a reluctance of the international assembly [in this matter] similar to the reluctance of African nations to censure Mugabe", but denied there had been a direct comparison of the two countries.

But Eli Abt, director of Abt Architecture & Planning, hit back, saying the proposed action had been
unambiguous.

"The proposal was to ban all members of the Israel Architects' Association, regardless of their views," he said.

"The situation was compared to the way Mugabe runs Zimbabwe. That's the scale of what is going on in the profession. You will not find that in any other profession. It is worrying for all right-thinking people.

"I keep raising other disputes in the world where clearly injustices are being perpetrated but the UIA does not listen.

"The people who are responsible for this [anti-Israel campaign] are well-funded and it will go on for as long as there is no peace between Israel and the Palestinians."

The parties have clashed repeatedly since the conference in letters and articles on the website of trade magazine, Building Design.

When APJP was launched in February 2006 it compared West Bank building firms to those that worked in apartheid-era South Africa.

Last updated: 11:48am, July 31 2008