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Rafi Segal backs RIBA's controversial motion

Israeli architect Rafi Segal has backed RIBA’s decision to call for the suspension of Israeli architects from the International Union of Architects (UIA)

A motion adopted by RIBA Council on 19 March claimed that the Israeli Association of United Architects had paid no regard to the UIA Resolution 13 of 2005, and had failed to condemn Israeli architects who helped sustain Israel’s policy to allow Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory.

The UK organisation has come in for fierce criticism for the move.

But Israeli architect Segal said: ‘I understand where RIBA is coming from. I am surprised how much attention it has been getting.

‘A professional industry does not need to wait for international law. It is a brave, bold move to say this is a red line.

‘If architecture is in service of a problematic political and military operation then a professional institution has to take a position. If RIBA wants to take a stance then I welcome it.’

Segal argued that if architects were designing concentration camps, they would be banned without question. So the issue was just when such a ban became necessary, he said.

‘I argue it is just a question of where the line is drawn. We are trying to move that line, as they have in medicine and law, to make ethics an issue of discussion.’

New Jersey based Segal has had run-ins with Israeli organisations in the past.

In 2002, the Israel Association of United Architects spoke out against an exhibition planned by Segal and Eyal Weizman for the UIA’s World Congress of Architecture in Berlin.

A decade later, in 2012, Segal was chosen as the preferred architect for the prestigious National Library of Israel scheme. But his appointment was cancelled later that year after the client said it had found ‘deficiencies’ in his proposal.

Segal took a case for his reinstatement to the Municipal Court of Jerusalem in 2013; but later asked for the case to be withdrawn without prejudice.

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