War between Israel and Hamas: KU Leuven maintains ongoing cooperation with Israeli universities

In recent months, the ethics committee has been investigating ongoing projects with Israeli institutions. The University of Leuven does not maintain structural ties with Israeli universities, but cooperates on projects. There are around fifteen projects mainly in larger consortia financed by the European Horizon program.

“The content of each project was subject to an in-depth investigation: it was determined whether there was a risk that the content would be misused or used for military purposes,” explains Luc Sels. “Projects were also assessed to determine whether they posed a risk of human rights violations and whether partners were involved in human rights violations.”

The war between Israel and Hamas: an action at KU Leuven demanding an end to links with Israeli universities

Based on this projection, it was decided to continue the existing projects. “We have decided on a balanced and detailed approach. New collaborations with Israeli partners must first be submitted for assessment to an ethics commission. This commission will not only apply human rights criteria, but will also evaluate with the necessary rigor if the research is possible.” military applications”, continues the rector. “There is no more we can do. Nor is there a majority in the university who would take a stricter approach.”

However, the university is urging its researchers to be cautious about engaging in new collaborations “if the Israeli government maintains its hard line.” The committee emphasizes that “there are credible indications of serious human rights abuses by the Israeli military and the current Israeli government: most Israeli universities have ties to the military and/or are funded by the Israeli government.”

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