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Headline

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

Comment

In answer to Lior Broch above, this is a matter of professional ethics that is the responsibility of architects internationally to take up, as the UIA Article 10(1) explicitly requires. Yes it has political implications, because this is a unique case where architects are carrying out state and military policy of building illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land against international law and the 4thGeneva Convention -these are equivalent to war crimes and constitute grave professional misconduct. Despite the UIA spefically condemning such projects in its Resolution 13, repeatedly at General Assemblies, Israel's architects association (IAUA) has insisted (again contrary to UIA Article (1)4 which states that an architects' institution must ensure its members do not practice illegally) that it will not interfere or censure its architects building in illegally occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank on land acquired by force and violence. This has all been well documented by Eyal Weizman and Rafi Segal in their iconic books "A Civilian Occupation" and "Hollow Land" and exhaustive reports by B'Tselem, Israel's human rights organisation. The 19 March RIBA Resolution was based on a deep understanding of the history of the Region, was strongly supported by many influential architects and was democratically debated in voted through by Council, It was the responsibility of Council to see it through at the UIA General Assembly in Durban, and it was backed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu -no less. Instead, due to pressure both from Israel and the Lobby here, both the UIA and the RIBA neglected their duty and responsibility to take action on suspending the IAUA from the UIA, not because it is "fashionable to bash Israel" but because of its 5 decades-long occupation and horrendous brutality and racism -perpetrated by the architecture and planning of the land grabs and illegal settlements, and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and Bedouin in the Negev and the West Bank. While Palestinian citizens of Israel posses some of the trappings of democracy, they are also subject to apartheid laws that in fact prevent them from living or owning property in 93% of Israel due to the Land Aquisition Acts and the Laws of Absentee Property . They cannot live in Israeli community housing, by the recently passed Admission Laws, and are constantly subject to harrasment, accused of being 5th Columnists, and its MKs subject to threats of expulsion. The Palestinians on the Occupied West Bank are subject to a more serious form of apartheid than South Africa, as has been well documented worldwide. Yes other countries like China need investigation -but that does not prevent the RIBA from taking up one of the most unjust crimes against a people of our time. Apropos the misguided delegation of the International Committee, this relates to, and tries to deflect from the 19 March Resolution, which is about the unacceptable professional practice of architecture. Israelis and Palestinians are not equal stakeholders in this issue . The RIBA should not be setting itself up as a 'mediator' which brings this into a political field which was so decried when the Motion was proposed. This is muddying the waters in what a clearly defined professional issue. In fact this delegation and its proposal are very damaging to the solution of this situation by neutralising it - in essence making sure that Israel's architects, who have collaborated and are an integral part of the occupation and colonisation, and who have never protested as an association against these crimes, are let off with 'dialoguing', and keeping the Palestinians in the same servitude -but offering them a few scholarships or educational advice -in effect accepting status quo of the occupation and making sure that real change, as requested by the Palestinians in applying pressure, boycotts and sanctions, will be made more difficult. Taking the previous action that the RIBA took against South African schools, it is as if instead of cutting its links with the schools, it made them more secure by visiting them and also the ANC and trying to 'mediate' between the two unequal sides, while ignoring the call for Boycotts by the ANC. This delegation is a colonial and arrogant approach which should be exposed, and it made clear that it is completely misdirected and damaging to the cause of helping the Palestinians to self-determination by applying world pressure on the intractable Israelis, by breaking institutional links with those professionals who are creating and underpinning the whole basis of the occupation, which is creating the facts on the ground. The 19 March Resolution still holds and must be pursued.

Posted date

8 November, 2014

Posted time

11:10 pm

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