Jordan university slammed for Israeli normalisation workshop

Jordan university slammed for Israeli normalisation workshop
The University of Jordan invited an Israeli-American academic to an online workshop, prompting criticism from anti-normalisation critics.
3 min read
07 June, 2020
Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab states with official ties to Israel [Getty]
The University of Jordan has been slammed for holding a "normalisation" workshop with an Israeli academic, according to a pro-Palestine committee.

The workshop was set up on 30-31 May to discuss "bio-mechanics and kinetic behaviour" with Israeli academic Gideon Ariel, drawing condemnation from the Supreme Executive Committee for the Protection of the Homeland and Confronting Normalisation.

In a statement, the committee demanded an apology from the university and to take necessary measures against those responsible for the workshop.

Normalisation is a recognition of the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation and provides a waiver of the rights of Arabs and Muslims in Palestine, the committee warned.

The University of Jordan responded to the criticism in a statement saying the lecturer is American and lives in California.

"The lecturer presented his work to more than 500 participants from 15 countries, including Germany, Palestine, Egypt, Australia, the United States, Japan and Iraq," a statement from the institution said.

"The university does not know the religious orientation of any of the participants," it added, noting the academic is an expert in kinetic analysis who did not even enter Jordan for the event, which was held online amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Egypt and Jordan are so far the only Arab states to have full diplomatic relations with Israel, though Gulf nations have made a number of recent moves hinting at warmer ties with the the Jewish state.

Last month, Bahraini authorities intervened to halt a youth-led online discussion on resisting normalisation with Israel.

The seminar, organised by the pro-Palestine Democratic Youth Anti-Normalisation Association, brought together guests from Palestine, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to discuss ways to mobilise against growing normalisation with Israel.

The event - which was held online amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic - was cancelled due to an intervention from "official authorities" just half a minute and a half into the call, the director of the group said.

"Just moments ago we received a call from official authorities to cancel this discussion. We apologise and hope to meet again during future events," the director, Hadeel Kamal al-Deen said in the recording which has been shared online.

The normalisation attempts come as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gears up to annex parts of the West Bank, including the strategic Jordan Valley and dozens of Israeli settlements considered illegal under international law.

Netanyahu has signalled he will begin moving forward with annexation, in line with President Donald Trump's Middle East plan unveiled earlier this year.

Read also: WATCH: Saudi Ramadan series blasted for attacking 'ungrateful' Palestinians and promoting 'normal relations' with Israel

The Trump plan envisions leaving about one third of the West Bank, which Israel captured in 1967, under permanent Israeli control, while granting the Palestinians limited autonomy in the remainder of the territory. The Palestinians, who seek all of the West Bank as part of an independent state, have rejected the plan, saying it unfairly favours Israel.

The annexation plan has come under harsh criticism from some of Israel's closest allies, who say that unilaterally redrawing the Mideast map would destroy any lingering hopes for establishing a Palestinian state and reaching a two-state peace agreement.

Jordan and Egypt, the only Arab countries with formal peace agreements with Israel, have also condemned the plan, while the Palestinians say they are no longer obligated to honour past agreements with Israel and have suspended security cooperation to protest annexation.

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