Middle East Monitor 9 May 2014
The International Union of Architects (IUA) discussed on Wednesday a call for expelling the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) from the union against the backdrop of the association's refusal to oppose settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.
The expulsion of the Israeli association was placed on the IUA's agenda after the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) called for the suspension of the IAUA's membership until it announced its opposition to the construction of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and takes a firm position against its members who are involved in the planning and construction in the West Bank.
The only country in the world that was previously expelled from the IUA is South Africa.
RIBA is demanding for the IAUA to implement its decisions issued in 2005 and 2009 condemning all activities that are incompatible with the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is related to the protection of civilians living in occupied territories. This includes constructing and developing on an ethnic basis on land that was illegally seized.
The World Congress of the IUA will be held in August this year, in Durban, South Africa.
The IUA discussed on Wednesday RIBA's invitation to vote in the World Congress on the call to suspend Israel's membership.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz commented on this situation by noting that whether the decision is eventually taken or not, a great harm has been made to the Israeli association - another episode in the isolation of Israel from the world community.
The call for expelling the Israeli association was first initiated by the Organisation of Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP). The leaders of the Israeli association have been working to prevent putting the issue to a vote, which according to the Israeli newspaper has for now been postponed.
The IAUA claims that it is only a professional association, and it does not have a political agenda. However, as Haaretz points out, this claim does not hold because the IAUA is not neutral. It does have a political position in support of the status quo.
The newspaper also noted that RIBA's call upon the IUA to expel the Israeli association has stirred up an international discussion in both the professional and popular arenas.