The RIBA’s delegation to Israel and the West Bank has been branded a ‘disgrace’ by the council member who seconded the resolution to suspend the institute’s Israeli counterpart from the International Union of Architects (UIA)
More from: Row over RIBA's Israel trip escalates
George Oldham, a national member of RIBA Council, said he would write to the 59 other council members ahead of its December meeting to protest at the visit of fellow councillor Peter Oborn and former councillor Sumita Sinha to the region at the end of last month. The trip was revealed by AJ last week.
The RIBA described it as part of the inquiries of a working group it established in April to ‘consider the implications’ of RIBA Council’s decision to call for the UIA to suspend the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) over illegal settlement building.
This motion, proposed by former president Angela Brady, was passed in March by 23 votes to 16 with 10 abstentions.
Oldham claimed that both Oborn – the RIBA’s international vice president – and Sinha publicly spoke out against the motion at the time and therefore could not represent an objective or balanced delegation.
He said: ‘It is a cynically devised delegation which went using funding which had not been approved [by council]. The motion was passed by a clear majority … but the people who backed the motion were not invited on the delegation and were not advised of it.’
An RIBA spokeswoman said ‘The RIBA’s working group reporting to the International Committee is chaired by RIBA Vice President of International Peter Oborn. The group has been tasked with considering the Institute’s role in engaging with communities facing civil conflict and natural disaster.
‘The group will consider the implications of the recent RIBA Council resolution calling on the International Union of Architects to suspend the Israeli Association of United Architects, and coordinate RIBA’s engagement and dialogue with all stakeholders on this complex issue.
‘As chair of the working group it was appropriate for Peter Oborn, also RIBA Vice President for International, to visit and hold talks with both the Israeli Association of United Architects and the Association of Architects in Palestine.’
The statement continues: ‘Peter will be heading back to the region next week (at the invitation of the Palestinian IT Association) to address the delegates of ‘Expotech’ in Ramallah on the RIBA’s recent research around Smart Cities.
‘The working group findings will be reported to the RIBA Board and Council by the end of this year.’
RIBA councillor slams delegation to Israel