Queen's University Belfast Divests from Israeli Companies, Offers Sanctuary to Academics

Queen's University Belfast commits to divesting from Israeli companies on the UN Human Rights Council's blacklist following a student protest and occupation. The university will also offer sanctuary to academics affected by the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

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Nitish Verma
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Queen's University Belfast Divests from Israeli Companies, Offers Sanctuary to Academics

Queen's University Belfast Divests from Israeli Companies, Offers Sanctuary to Academics

Queen's University in Belfast has committed to divesting from Israeli companies listed on the UN Human Rights Council's blacklist, following a protest and occupation of the Lanyon Building on Tuesday. The university also announced it will offer sanctuary to academics affected by the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Why this matters: This decision sets a significant precedent for universities to take a stand on the Israel-Palestine issue, potentially influencing other institutions to reevaluate their relationships with Israeli companies and institutions. As more universities divest and cut ties, it could lead to increased pressure on Israel to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and work towards a peaceful resolution.

The decision comes days after Trinity College in Dublin made a similar pledge, ending a five-day protest on their campus. In a statement, Queen's University said:"Following a joint proposal from the President and Vice-Chancellor and the Students' Union President, due to the continued conflict in Gaza and in line with the International Court of Justice's recent finding on genocide, the University has agreed to engage with its investment managers to initiate a process todivest from investmentsin companies that are listed by the UN Human Rights Council as carrying out listed activities in relation to Palestine."

The university expressed its desire for a permanent end to the current conflict, stating: "What we have learned from the Northern Ireland conflict is that dialogue and compromise between all parties founded on justice and equality is the only way to achieve lasting peace, and at Queen's, we express our desire and genuine hope that the current negotiations will lead to a permanent end to the current conflict."

While the QUB Palestine Assembly, who organized the protest, welcomed the university's statement, they noted that it "fallsshort" compared to Trinity College's commitment to end all relationships with Israeli suppliers and divest from all Israeli companies, as well as those operating in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Several other universities in Ireland have taken similar actions in response to growing pressure from students and faculty. University College Cork (UCC) also committed to divesting from Israeli companies on Thursday. Maynooth University students held a sit-in and publicly read out a letter to college president Eeva Leinonen, demanding the university take a stance on the conflict and divest from Israeli companies. Technological University Dublin (TUD) students are planning similar forms of direct action if their demands are not met.

Students across the UK and Ireland are demanding that their universities cut ties with Israeli institutions, divest from Israeli businesses, and take a firm stance on the nature of the conflict. University of Galway president Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh has agreed to review links with Israeli institutions and strengthen ties with Palestinian ones, following student activism and engagement with management.

Dean Kenny, Student Union president at University of Galway, said: "We've a lot of student union officers coming to us asking what did we do. How did we go about it? All we did was we presented our asks very reasonably and very articulately. I mean, they're not really big asks, especially what's happening in Trinity. They're only asking for them to cut ties with these institutions and with companies that are literally funding a genocide."

Queen's University Belfast's decision to divest from Israeli companies on the UN blacklist and offer sanctuary to academics affected by the conflict in Gaza marks a significant step in the growing movement among universities to take a stand on the Israel-Palestine issue. As more institutions face pressure from students and faculty to cut ties and divest, the impact on the conflict and the role of academia in promoting dialogue and justice remains to be seen.