Belgium’s Ghent university cuts ties with 3 Israel institutions


Photo: Students at University of Ghent stage pro-Palestinian protest, condemning the Israel’s attacks on Gaza and demanded the school administration to cut all relations with Israel in Brussels, Belgium on May 6, 2024. [Dursun Aydemir – Anadolu Agency]

Belgium’s University of Ghent (UGent) is severing ties with three Israeli educational or research institutions which it says no longer align with UGent’s human rights policy, Reuters reports its rector saying.

Pro-Palestinian protesters in Ghent have been demonstrating against Israel’s military offensive in Gaza and have been occupying parts of the university since early this month.

The university’s rector, Rik Van de Walle, said in a statement that ties were being cut with Holon Institute of Technology, MIGAL Galilee Research Institute and the Volcani Centre, which carries out agricultural research.

“We currently assess these three partners as (very) problematic according to the Ghent University human rights test, in contrast to the positive evaluation we gave these partners at the start of our collaboration,” Van de Walle said.

Partnerships with MIGAL Galilee Research Institute and the Volcani Centre “were no longer desirable” due to their affiliation with Israeli ministries, an investigation by the University of Ghent found, and collaboration with the Holon Institute “was problematic” because it provided material support to the army for actions in Gaza.

A spokesperson for the university said the move would affect four projects.

The three Israeli institutions did not immediately comment.

The protesters told Belgian broadcaster VRT they welcomed the decision but regarded it as only a first step. They said they would continue their occupation of parts of the university “until UGent breaks its ties with all Israeli institutions”.

The actions mirror those of students in the United States and elsewhere in Europe, calling for an immediate permanent ceasefire and for schools to cut financial ties with companies they say are profiting from what they regard as the oppression of Palestinians.