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One of the largest American Jewish advocacy organization blasted as unfair and unjustified the Spanish government's decision to exclude Israel's Ariel University Center of Samaria from the Solar Decathlon Europe.
The exclusion of the West Bank academic institution could not be justified as a broader European policy or in the context of EU treatment of "universities elsewhere in the world in areas [the EU deems] occupied," according to a statement issued the New York-based Anti-Defamation League on Thursday.
In response to an ADL query, the Spanish Foreign Ministry said the decision was based on the "position of the international community" on Israeli settlements and the fact that "the European Union has repeatedly declared that settlements are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace."
Indeed, "when it first announced the disqualification of the Israeli team, Spain's Ministry of Housing said the decision was in accordance with European Union policy."
But, according to the ADL, "there is no policy of noncooperation with Israeli institutions in the West Bank, some of which have received funding from the 'EU Framework Programme for R&D.'"
The American Jewish anti-discrimination group also listed other universities "in occupied areas that have received EU support."
These included Artsakh State University, "established in 1992 in Nagorno-Karabakh, which received support from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology for an archeology project; and Eastern Mediterranean University, established in 1979 in Northern Cyprus, which received a â‚¬20,000 grant from the European Commission in September 2009."
The Solar Decathlon is a house-building competition in which participants must construct an entirely solar-powered building. Ariel University Center had qualified for the 2010 final round in Madrid before the Spanish government decided to exclude it.
ADL's National Director Abe Foxman blasted "Spain's politicization of this competition," which he said "harms scientific cooperation on an important environmental project. Solar-powered homes could benefit untold numbers of people around the world, just as other Israeli innovations have in medicine, agriculture, and communications technologies."