Norwegian minister: Academic boycott of Israel would be illegal

Last update – 03:29 10/11/2009

By Cnaan Liphshiz, Haaretz Correspondent

The University of Trondheim would be in violation of legal principles if its board members vote on Thursday to boycott Israel, Norway’s minister for higher education, Tora Aasland warned on Monday in a television broadcast.

If the vote is passes, it would make the Trondheim-based Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) the first Western university to boycott Israel.

Speaking to the newspaper Aftenpost ahead of the controversial vote, Aasland added she does not view boycotts against Israel favorably and that this view is also shared by the government.

“The employees themselves have a statutory right to choose both the subject and method of their research,” she said, adding that the university’s management should not impose any boycott moves on its researchers.

A representative on the board of executives at the University of Tromso this week told Haaretz that the NTNU vote is part of a national effort by pro-Palestinian activists to promote a boycott of Israel in Norwegian institutions of higher education, including in Tromso.

“A group of people have petitioned the board to hold a vote on this in the coming weeks, but no decision has been made yet,” said the board representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The vote scheduled vote prompted more than 1,000 scholars, including Nobel laureates, to sign a petition against the proposed move. It states that they “refute and condemn the campaign to boycott Israeli academics” and academic institutions.

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