President's Conference chairman Israel Maimon on Wednesday responded to physicist Steven Hawking's decision to boycott the June event, saying "the use of an academic boycott on Israel is outrageous and unwarranted."

The Guardian reported on Tuesday that Hawking had written a letter to President Shimon Peres, telling him that he had decided to respect the boycott based upon his knowledge of Palestine and on the advice of his Palestinian colleagues.

Maimon said that Hawking's decision was all the more unacceptable in light of the fact that the "spirit of freedom" was the basis of his academic and human endeavors.

"Israel is a democracy in which everyone can voice their opinions, whatever they may be. Boycotting is not compatible with open demcratic dialogue," he added.

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