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Palestinian architects call on Hodder not to back down on Israeli motion

More than 220 Palestinian architects have signed a letter to RIBA president Stephen Hodder calling on him to ‘stay firm’ on the motion to suspend Israel from the International Architects Union (UIA)

Describing the RIBA’s position as both ‘noble and moral’, the group of Palestinian architects said they feared the ‘democratic voice of RIBA Council members’ was being squashed by ‘infuential’ external forces. The motion, calling for the suspension of Israel from the UIA in protest at architects who accept commissions in the Occupied Territories, is expected to be debated again at a RIBA council meeting later this month.

The group added: ‘The RIBA council motion is a crucial move in the face of illegal and unjust Israeli architectural practices that breach ethical codes.’

‘We feel it is the responsibility of the RIBA and the UIA to help to address this unique situation of injustice in architecture and building, and hold to account the professional institution of any member country of the UIA where its members continue to involve themselves in illegal architectural practices.’

The calls come after leading Israeli architect Yitzhak Lipovetsky-Li claimed Hodder was not in support of the RIBA’s motion.

Earlier this month Hodder met with Yitzhak Lipovetsky-Lir, former president of the IAUA and its international ambassador, at Portland Place in an effort to smooth over relations between the two bodies.

After the meeting, which was also attended by RIBA international vice president Peter Oborn, Lipovetsky-Lir said: ‘He [Hodder] and vice president Oborn said they are not supporting the motion; absolutely.’ 

The motion, which was championed by past-RIBA president Angela Brady, was expected to be debated at the UIA’s forthcoming annual convention in Durban, South Africa, but a spokesperson for the UIA recently confirmed it was not on the agenda.

Brady’s motion

‘The Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) has paid no regard to the UIA Resolution 13 of 2005. The RIAS calls on the UIA, as the international guardian of professional and ethical standards in our profession, to take appropriate action. The UIA membership of the Israeli Association of United Architects should be suspended until these illegal projects end, and international law, the UIA Accords and Resolution 13 are observed.’

The RIBA declined to comment on the letter.

Previous story (AJ 30.05.14)

Leading Israeli claims RIBA president did not back suspension motion

RIBA president Stephen Hodder does not back the RIBA motion to suspend Israel from the International Architects Union (UIA), the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) has claimed

The IAUA and RIBA have been at loggerheads following RIBA Council’s decision in March to support ex-RIBA president Angela Brady’s call for the suspension of Israel from the UIA in protest at architects who accept commissions in the Occupied Territories.

Earlier this month Hodder met with Yitzhak Lipovetsky-Lir, former president of the IAUA and its international ambassador, at Portland Place in an effort to smooth over relations between the two bodies.

After the meeting, which was also attended by RIBA international vice president Peter Oborn, Lipovetsky-Lir said: ‘He [Hodder] and vice president Oborn said they are not supporting the motion; absolutely.’ 

‘I felt they were caught by surprise by the way the council voted,’ he added.

The latest disclosure follows claims made by Lipovetsky-Lir, prior to his recent head-to-head with Hodder, in which he told the AJ that the UIA had already decided to ignore the RIBA motion:

‘I have spoken personally to the president of the UIA, Professor Albert Dubler,’ said Lipovetsky-Lir, ‘and he has told me that they [UIA] have rejected the RIBA motion. They are not going to deal with it anymore.

‘I don’t know why they have rejected it; he didn’t tell me,’ he added.

Referring to the recent meeting with Hodder, Lipovetsky said that the RIBA president had revealed the institute’s council would be holding a meeting on the 19 June and that the issue ‘would be on the agenda’.

Brady and her supporters had expected the motion to be debated at the UIA’s forthcoming annual convention in Durban, South Africa this summer (7 August). But a spokeswoman for the UIA said: ‘[The expulsion]of the Israeli Association of United Architects, is not part of the next UIAGeneral Assembly’s agenda.’

The RIBA maintians said it has yet to receive ‘a formal response on the matter from the UIA’ and refused to comment directly on Lipovetsky’s comments, but confirmed that ‘RIBA Council will be updated on the resolution at its next meeting’.

Angela Brady said she had heard nothing from the UIA but added that she stood by her decision to bring the motion: ‘It is a very sensitive issue, but it is very important and has to be discussed.’

Readers' comments (5)

  • Alex Seymour

    Stay strong Stephen; don't give in to pressure and blackmail from the Zionist (gutter) press.

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  • This saga reminds me of some of the pieces by Robert Fisk, in the Independent, over the years, on the obstacles sometimes placed in his way in the course of trying to comment objectively on the less attractive aspects of Israeli behaviour in the conflicts over land and human rights.

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  • Let's make some clarification here. The RIBA "Resolution" of council meeting on 19th March stands. There is so much misreporting about this, for example as referred to above;-
    "After the meeting, which was also attended by RIBA international vice president Peter Oborn, Lipovetsky-Lir said: ‘He [Hodder] and vice president Oborn said they are not supporting the motion; absolutely.'"
    The truth to this "Quotation" is that it is incorrect as Peter Oborn has written to Mr Lipovetsky-Lir refuting this information "...We were particularly disappointed that your comments appear to have informed a story that there are plans to overturn the resolution that had been passed by RIBA Council. We did not say this. We told you that the resolution had since been forwarded to the UIA whose response we await"

    Just to be clear that the RIBA stand united on the RIBA Resolution as also confirmed by Stephen Hodder PRIBA yesterday.

    Let's think positive and move on.

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  • Agreed Angela. Let's get over any past misrepresentations and misunderstandings, and press on with the important business of taking the motion to the UIA as directed by the RIBA Council. We are well aware of the efforts to prevent this and avoid holding the Israeli Institute to account for the criminal actions of some of its members, but the accelerated settlement and ethnic cleansing programme must be addressed by the UIA if it is to retain any ethical credibility. If anyone doubts Israel's intention in its settlements policy, all they need do is read the words of the Israeli Housing Minister, Uri Ariel, which you can find on the following link, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/politics/11773-israeli-housing-minister-uri-ariel-advocates-for-the-complete-colonisation-of-palestine.

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  • The story is now unravelling, with the Palestinians' voice being heard at last. With all the intrigues and pressure going on behind the scenes, we must now hold the UIA to account for neglecting to do their duty as the world body of architects, to take action on Resolution 13 (condemning projects against the Geneva Conventions) which they have confirmed several times at various Councils and Assemblies. It is absurd, as they say that it is beyond their political scope, or it does not meet the suddenly emerging 150 day rule (5 months!) for submitting a Motion. Where a country is so flagrantly breaking international law in its whole architectural practice in the Occupied Palestinian Territories -(and its discriminatory property and building laws within Israel itself ) -one simply cannot dismiss any action at all and propose 'dialogue' between the oppressor and oppressed -since experience shows the IAUA just refuses to acknowledge its role in this oppression and would be delighted in the UIA never taking a stand. In all fairness, this Motion must be treated as an emergency, where the settlements, the violence, the de- facto annexations and ethnic cleansing is proceeding at an accelerated pace with the breakdown of the so-called peace talks. Come on UIA, have the guts to uphold justice and ethical standards of our profession and send a clear message to Israel that there is price to pay for its decades-long impunity!

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