8 July 2009
To: Beatriz Corredor Sierra,
Ministerio de Vivienda, Government of Spain.
Paseo de la Castellana,112
2807, Madrid, Espana
Dear Minister Sierra,
RE: SOLAR DECATHLON EUROPE - MADRID 2010, Participation of Ariel.
As members of the international organisation, Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine, and academics from Universities in the UK, we are astonished to see that the self-styled Ariel 'University Centre’ of Samaria is representing Israel in the Solar Decathlon, and has been selected as a participant in the final entries.
This 'college' is not in Israel, but in territory which the settlers call ‘Judea and Samaria’, in the West Bank illegally occupied by Israel. The settlement of Ariel has been constructed illegally, and its settlers and institutions illegally set up, to create facts on the ground that will negate the possibility of a viable Palestinian state. This is in complete contradiction to international law and the Geneva Conventions.
Under the Rome statute of the Geneva Convention, "The transfer ... by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies" is a war crime – an apt description of the Israeli settlement process. The International Criminal Court Act states that it is an offence to aid and abet war crimes. So it is considered illegal for an EU country to award any recognition to this sort of institution, let alone to "enhance its prestige" which is one of the stated aims of the Decathlon.
The International Union of Architects (UIA) has already taken note that Israeli architecture and planning in the West Bank is contrary to its professional ethics and Codes of Conduct and Accords. Architects, planners and academics around the world have signed petitions against the illegal settlements.
Ariel college, whose degrees are not even recognised by Israel’s own Council of Higher Education, generally excludes the local Palestinian population, who are confined and restricted in every detail of their lives and controlled by hundreds of checkpoints and barriers, and prevented from travelling on the main settler-only highways in the West Bank. Their water resources and land are expropriated, and their houses and trees demolished. The head of the architecture department in Ariel College in the West Bank commented that his students watching out of their classroom windows "see the Arab villages, but don’t notice them. They look and they don’t see.”
Ariel College has been the subject of international boycott by academic institutions around the world, and the Palestinian community and NGOs (PACBI) have requested that the participation of the illegal colonial institutions like Ariel, set up against international law by Israel, have no place in international forums. Their participation would convey undeserved respectability and recognition to them.
In the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency and resistance to injustice and oppression, and as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid, we sincerely urge the organisers of the Solar Decathlon to withdraw the participation of this illegal institution. Its presence in the Decathlon will only sour the atmosphere and constructive spirit of such an important gathering.
We look forward to your urgent response.
With best regards
Abe Hayeem, RIBA Chair, Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine,UK
Hans Haenlein, RIBA
Cezary M Bednarski RIBA FRSA SARP
Dr. Ghada Karmi, MD, Exeter University, UK
Prof. Haim Bresheeth, Chair of Media and Cultural Studies, University of E. London
Walter Hain, Architect,UK
Martin O’Shea, RIBA
Isabel Camacho, arquitecto COAM, Spain.
Jonathan Rosenhead, Emeritus Professor of Operational Research, LSE
John Murray, Architect,UK
Malcolm Hecks,RIBA, UK, France
John van Rooyen, RIBA
David Berridge, RIBA
Professor Osama Hamdan, Architect, Al Quds University, Jerusalem
Mike Gwilliam, RTPI, Planner UK
Zahira Nazer, Architect, Urban designer, Lebanon, UK
Mike Cushman, LSE
Dr. Robert Boyce, LSE
Dr. Derek Summerfield, London Institute of Psychiatry
Edwin Rutledge, Architect USA/Germany
Prof. Fahmi Salameh ,Architect, Universitat Politecnica, Barcelona, Al Quds
Ahmad Barclay, Architect, UK, dip.Arch Nottingham University
Yara Sharif, Architect, Unversity of Westminster, Birzeit University, Ramallah
Sara Wood, UK
Nicholas Wood, Architect, UK
Dr. Sue Blackwell, Birmingham University
Dr.Keith Hammond, Glasgow University
Phil Marfleet, University of East London,UK
Steve Fox, RIBA
Mayyad Bader, Architect, UK
Francesca Visconti, Architect, Italy
Anne Markey,RIBA, London Metropolitan University
Robert Shaw,RIBA Practice
John Lynes, Engineer, Christians’ Peacemakers’ Team, Iraq
Anil Korotane, Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory (FAST) UK
Letter from the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Campaign
Palestine, September 2, 2009
Beatriz Corredor Sierra,
Minister of Housing, Government of Spain.
Javier Uceda Antolín,
Rector, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid,
Subject: The participation of ARIEL UNIVERSITY’s Center of Samaria IN THE SOLAR DECATHLON MADRID 2010
Illegal Israeli settlements should not be promoted as a form of sustainable architecture.
The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), which is drawn from the major Palestinian political and social force is deeply concerned about your selection of Ariel 'University’s' Centre of Samaria (hereafter referred to as AUCS) as a participant in the Solar Decathlon, organized by the Spanish Ministry of Housing and the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, and taking place in Madrid in June 2010. Extending an invitation to AUCS is a form of complicity in breaching international law through offering concrete support and legitimation to an illegal Israeli settlement built on occupied Palestinian territory.
The Palestinian BDS campaign has called for the academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions until Israel fully complies with its obligations under international law. Israeli academic institutions have “either contributed directly to maintaining, defending or otherwise justifying … [Israeli colonial] oppression, or have been complicit in them through their silence." AUCS is especially complicit as it is itself a colony built on occupied Palestinian territory, violating the Fourth Geneva Convention which regards such colonization as “war crimes.” The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in July 2004 also ruled in its advisory opinion on Israel’s Wall that all such settlements are illegal.
Founded as a regional branch of Bar-Ilan University, AUCS is located in the Ariel settlement which, together with its industrial zone Barkan, is the second largest Israeli colony in the West Bank, just after the occupied East Jerusalem settlement block. It is located 22 km away from the “Green Line,” cutting deep into the Palestinian Governorate of Salfit and grabbing more than 22% of its land: 10% is used to house 17,000 settlers, and 12% is used for military training purposes.
Israel’s illegal apartheid Wall divides the governorate into separate Bantustans in order to facilitate the annexation of the Ariel settlement block to Israel. The colony destroys the livelihoods and water sources of Palestinian farming communities as prime agricultural lands are buried under its cement or polluted by its waste.
The Fourth Geneva Convention states that "the transfer by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies" is a war crime. Also, U.N. Security Council Resolution 465 confirms the illegality of Israeli settlements and calls on “all states not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connection with settlements in the occupied territories.”
The most recent European Council meeting in Brussels, held on June 15th, 2009, has once again reiterated the illegality of Israeli settlements and has defined them as "obstacles for peace." Spain, represented by its Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miguel Angel Moratinos, has explicitly adopted this European position on Israeli settlements, which lends further support to why Spain should not engage in any cooperation with AUCS.
The Israeli project, called ‘the stretch house’ is in fact the ultimate model of Zionist expansion and colonialism. Fayeq Kishawi, coordinator of the popular committees against the Wall and the settlements in Salfit district, comments: “The Israeli project represents Israeli claim to expand control over our land and resources and to expel us, occupy us and destroy our livelihoods at their own whim and desire. It is a recipe for how to steal more and more land. As somebody living in Salfit and suffering like the others from Ariel’s continuous ‘stretching’ I wonder how the Solar Decathlon can accept a project submitted by an institution that has stolen our land and will build its project on our stolen land.”
Abe Hayeem, chair of Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, has referred to the irony of the name Ariel College chose for its project at the Solar Decathlon, "the stretch house;” illegal settlements, like Ariel, have been built by 'stretching' and distorting international law to justify their construction. Hayeem believes that “Ariel’s entry boasts of proposing a different alternative at a time of growing awareness for sustainability and ‘green’ architecture" in blatant disregard for international law.
The inclusion of “the stretch house” into the “Solar Villa” undermines international law and offers concrete support for and complicity with Israeli war crimes. We ask that you reconsider your invitation to the illegal settlement institution to display its model illegal expansion rebranded as one of ‘sustainability.’
The International Union of Architects (UIA) has charged that Israel’s architecture and planning in the occupied West Bank are contrary to its professional ethics and Codes of Conduct and Accords. Architects, planners and academics around the world have signed petitions against the illegal settlements.
Thus, inviting AUCS to participate in the Solar Decathlon is not only a breach of international law, but also lends validity to the illegal settlement through promoting its model of ‘illegal sustainability’ in house building.
In compliance with international law, and in the spirit of international solidarity and moral consistency, we ask the organisers of the Solar Decathlon Madrid 2010 competition for sustainable architecture to cancel the participation of AUCS. We ask that you recognize that the ‘stretch house’ is not a sustainable housing development, but rather a model that actively breaches international law. We sincerely hope that Madrid’s Solar Villa will not include a model promoting the Israeli occupation and apartheid.
The Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC)
Endorsed by Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP)
 This includes ending the occupation, facilitating the right of Palestinian refugees to return and ensuring equal rights for all Palestinian citizens of Israel. For more information please see the Palestinian BDS call: http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52
 Rome Statute of the Geneva Convention, Art. 8 (2) (b) (VIII)- and as a source of International Humanitarian Law Art. 85(4) (a) as quoted by the International Red Crescent Committee: http://www.icrc.org
 “All measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” See: http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/db942872b9eae454852560f6005a76fb/5aa254a1c8f8b1cb852560e50075d7d5
 Conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process, adopted by the Council on 15 June 2009