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RIBA Council members travel to Israel and Palestine for talks on settlements


Two members of RIBA Council have visited Israel and the West Bank as part of the institute’s continuing investigations into Israeli architects building settlements on Palestinian land

Last week, Sumita Sinha and Peter Oborn – RIBA’s vice-president of international – travelled to the region and held talks with both the Israeli Association of United Architects and the Association of Architects in Palestine in a trip funded by the RIBA.

Sinha and Oborn were there as members of a working group established by RIBA in April to ‘consider the implications’ of RIBA Council’s controversial motion the previous month to call on the International Union of Architects (UIA) to suspend the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) over illegal settlement building.  

The working group, which is chaired by Oborn, is also considering the RIBA’s wider role in ‘engaging with communities facing civil conflict and natural disaster’.

Oborn told the AJ he would not comment on the working group’s activities ahead of reporting its findings and recommendations next month. However, he said that the group would be making at least one other foreign trip before this.

RIBA council’s motion – which was proposed by former president Angela Brady and voted through by 23 votes to 16 with 10 abstentions – provoked a storm of protest from supporters of Israel.

This included the RIBA being branded ‘anti-semitic’ by the Jewish Chronicle and a highly critical open letter sent to RIBA president Stephen Hodder by former British Land chairman John Ritblat and his art patron wife Jill, both of whom are honorary fellows of the institute.



Readers' comments (12)

  • Lior Broche -as usual perpetuating a discussion by leading off into irrelevance and distortion. There is no precise prescription that the RIBA has to follow. It can indeed look at reform of the planning system as well as its international responsibilities -that is why it is a member of the UIA. It must promote good architecture anywhere, and especially professional and ethical codes, which Israeli architectural practice is fundamentally in breach of, since it based on the privilege and benefit of one section of the population, to the detriment and dispossession of the other half. This extends to 1948, and before, where Israel's cities and towns are built over the ruins of destroyed Palestinian villages and 93% of land owned by Palestinians that now constitute Israel. The discriminatory planning system that prevents Palestinian citizens of Israel from extending their homes, or even building outside 'blue-line' designated areas, or even to bring services to unrecognised villages have never been protested about by those architects not building in occupied (not disputed) territories. Stop projecting them as victims. It is the Palestinians in Israel and the OPTs and blockaded Gaza who are under siege -who are the victims and targets of the 'campaigns of hate' by Israel's extreme ultra right government and its rampaging settlers and the IDF. It is difficult to see where one could reason with you - I suggest you best spend your time reading Eyal Weizman, or check some of the Israeli websites like ICAHD, IR Amim, B'Tselem to get your facts straightened out -instead of projecting Israeli hasbara.

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  • Abe, you simply don’t get me! I don’t want it to be a political discussion because RIBA is not the stage.
    A boycott is an act of hatred and pure discrimination, and if you think this will help the situation then you are very much mistaken.
    This outpour of anti-Israel energy and hatred is not bringing the 2 sides any closer to peace. Peace is what’s needed for all the people of that region i.e. not by adding fuel to an already well-lit fire.
    Violence has already escalated towards Jewish communities all over Europe as a result of hate campaigns even though they had nothing to do with the latest conflict in Gaza.

    RIBA should stick to its original motives and let the elected politicians to do their jobs instead of listening to the street mob.
    If I oppose to the current Israeli policies I have the choice to vote for the relevant parliament party and I don’t want RIBA to use my fees for their own political gains
    I would like RIBA to promote good design & architecture and create more work for architects in the UK. I would like them to fight for architects rights instead of sending a “superior expert panel” abroad to deal with subject they have no desire to understand and will never win.

    Architects supposed to come with a creative solution to a problem – boycott is not a creative solution.

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