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International Architects' Union to boycott Israel?,7340,L-3563988,00.html

World Architecture Congress in Turine (sic) may adopt proposal to expel Israeli architects from organization over their involvement in settlement construction

Itamar Eichner
Published:     07.04.08, 14:52 / Israel News

The International Architects' Union (UIA) may adopt a proposal Saturday to boycott Israeli architects and expel them from the organization over their involvement in the construction of settlements in the territories.

The union, comprised of more than 1 million architects from 116 countries worldwide, is holding its annual World Architecture Congress in Turine, Italy, with 8,500 participants from across the world.

The boycott was initiated by a group of architects, mostly British, as well as several Israeli, Palestinian and Arab architects.

The group submitted a proposal to expel Israel from the UIA, stating that the Israeli architects are lending a hand to violations of international law by helping build residential units in the settlements and on confiscated Palestinian lands.

According to the proposal, which will be discussed by the organization's general assembly on Saturday, "These activities constitute a violation of professional ethics and of the organization's treaty. Through the (settlement) construction, Israeli architects are serving the occupation and perpetuating it."

The proposal goes on to say that Israel's architects are helping the Israeli government advance a policy similar to South Africa's past apartheid policy, and are "building" the infrastructure of occupation.

Architect Yitzhak Lipovetzky-Lir, the Israel Architects Association's representative at the conference, has been working vigorously over the past few days to thwart the boycott initiative.

Lipovetzky said that the Israeli association was extremely worried by the proposal, fearing it would eventually be adopted by the congress.

"This means Israeli architects won't be able to attend all of the organization's activities worldwide, including conventions and competitions, and cooperate with UN institutions. This will definitely place a black stain on Israeli architects," he said. "It will harm our international ties and our ability to work abroad."

In the event,at the Assembly, not a single country was willing to propose the motion which was not to for a boycott as such, but for all member countries of the UIA to observe international law and the UIA Charter, and asking what action the UIA intends to take against a country breaching these codes, as was done with South Africa in the 1970s.

This is what Building Design, the UK architects' weekly paper, reported:

Campaigners slam UIA over failure to expel Israelis

9 July, 2008

By Will Hurst

Lobby group Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine has vowed to continue with its campaigning after a move to expel Israeli professionals from the International Union of Architects (UIA) failed.

Last year a host of leading British architects including Will Alsop, Rick Mather, Sunand Prasad and Jack Pringle backed an APJP petition challenging Israeli architects to cease work that “excludes and oppresses” Palestinians including work in the occupied territories and parts of east Jerusalem.

But a proposed motion at last weekend’s 23rd World Congress of Architecture in Turin which could have seen the Israel Architects Association barred from the UIA came to nothing because no delegate presented it for a vote.

The news was greeted with anger and disbelief by APJP chairman Abe Hayeem.

“The silence of UIA representatives to propose a motion to censure Israel for its breaches of the UIA professional and ethical charter, as well as the flouting of international law, is reminiscent of Africa’s prolongued reluctance to criticise Robert Mugabe’s criminal excesses,” he said.

“The issue of how far any professional body will go to protect or ignore its professional and ethical code of conduct will not disappear.”

Former RIBA president Pringle, who attended the conference on behalf of the RIBA, told BD he had signed the original petition in a personal capacity and was unable to put forward a political statement as an RIBA representative.

He said: “It’s fair enough that member states respect international law but everybody realised this was an extremely difficult situation and not even the Palestinians were prepared to put forward the motion.”

No-one at the UIA or Israel Architects’ Association was available as BD went to press.