Israeli scientist with anti-occupation stance barred from committee

Published 09.07.2018 14:01

An Israeli neuroscientist has been blocked from joining a scientific committee over her past support for Israeli soldiers refusing to serve in the occupied West Bank, Israeli media reported Monday.

Yael Amitai, a neuroscience researcher at Ben Gurion University, was nominated for appointment to the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF), a scientific body established by both governments, in mid-June.

On Sunday, Israeli Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis blocked the appointment over a letter Amitai signed in 2005, along with other academics, supporting soldiers who refused to serve in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War.

"As soon as Professor Amitai called for the refusal [of army service], she cannot represent the state of Israel," Akunis, of the right-wing Likud party, told Army Radio on Monday.

"I was not elected to promote other agendas," he said.

Israel has mandatory military service for most Jewish citizens.

Speaking to dpa, Amitai said she is not against Israel's mandatory military draft as Ofira alleged, citing the military service of her two children, but she supports soldiers' choice to refuse service in the West Bank.

Amitai identifies as part of Israel's left wing and supports a two-state solution, which would establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and other territories.

"It was not about serving in the army but especially serving in the territories," she said.

"[Akunis] wanted a scandal against academia. He needs to score a point for the primaries," she added, referring to planned leadership elections for the Likud party in early 2019.

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