Urgent Appeal to Suspend Israel’s Participation in EU Research Programs Following ICJ Interim Order on Gaza Genocide

AURDIP and four European academic organizations urge the EU to suspend Israel’s participation in EU research programs following the International Court of Justice’s interim order, which found plausible claims of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. The letter highlights Israel’s violations of international law and criticizes EU funding that may support these actions. It calls for compliance with the ICJ order and an end to EU support for Israel until it adheres to international law and ethical standards.

To Mr. Josep Borrell, High  Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

To  Ms. Iliana Ivanova, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth,

Dear Mr. Josep Borrell,

Dear Ms. Iliana Ivanova,

On 26 January 2024 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an interim Order in response to South Africa’s application for proceedings against Israel alleging violations of the Genocide Convention for its actions in Gaza since 7 October 2023. The Court determined that ‘at least some of the rights claimed by South Africa and for which it is seeking protection [i.e. the right of the Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from genocide] are plausible’. It also found a ‘real and imminent risk’ of irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from genocide.

This comes as no surprise to the many European researchers and academics who, together with MEPs, have repeatedly expressed in letters to you or your predecessors their grave concern over the participation of Israel in the EU Framework Programmes for Research & Innovation. Instead of fulfilling its obligations as an occupying power, Israel has displaced Palestinians, stolen their resources, colonized their land, expanded its illegal settlements, and persecuted the Palestinians with law and practices defined as apartheid by Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights organizations. Yet the EU has rewarded Israel with privileges instead of sanctions. To date, Israel has received more than €600 million funding from the Horizon Europe, more than any EU member state. The cumulative funding for 27 years, together with political, diplomatic and economic support, has paved the way to processes culminating in the current genocidal war: “a tragedy foretold”, against EU’s own law and ethical principles. The UN special rapporteur and the UN independent Commission of Inquiry have been warning that the protracted occupation, the impunity and discriminatory policies against the Palestinians are the root causes of the perpetual violence which has endangered peace and stability in the region. By overlooking war crimes, the EU has taken on a major responsibility.

The obligation of Third States to comply with the ICJ Order flows directly from the Genocide Convention. Under the Convention, all States have a negative obligation not to commit or be complicit in genocide and positive obligations to prevent and punish genocide. The prohibition to commit genocide is a jus cogens norm from which no party, including corporations, can derogate. Because of the ICJ ruling, the EU’s implicit endorsement of Israeli behaviour must end.

And yet at this very moment the Israeli arms industry as well as companies on the UN database of business enterprises involved in activities related to the Israeli settlements in the OPT benefit from funding from the EU research programmes. We draw particular attention to the use of Artificial Intelligence in connection with near-automated bombing campaigns in densely populated areas of Gaza, undertaken with total disregard for the loss of civilian lives. For example, the Israeli army has developed a system largely built on AI called ‘Habsora’ (‘The Gospel’) which can ‘generate targets almost automatically at a rate that far exceeds what was previously possible’ and is used in the large-scale targeting of civilian buildings. Another AI-based programme known as ‘Lavender’ identifies people to be put on a ‘kill list’ and has played a central role in the widespread killing of Palestinian civilians. Yet another system, ‘Where’s Daddy’, alerts the Israeli army when Palestinians on a ‘kill list’ enter their family homes, at which point they and their homes become targets for aerial bombing or drone attacks. We note that research in AI has long been an area of scientific cooperation between the EU and Israel. The EU should be prepared to investigate whether or to what extent its own funds have contributed to the deaths of civilians in Gaza.

 Article 25 of the Rome Statute criminalises not only direct or indirect assistance to genocide but also incitement to commit genocide. To offer just one example, the President of Tel-Aviv University, a public institution, has compared the Palestinian people to the accursed tribe of Amalek and called upon them to suffer the same fate, that is to say every Palestinian man, woman and child should be killed. Such statements from prominent academic and political figures are commonplace, as can be documented from the South Africa brief to the ICJ, §101 to 107, and EU scientific cooperation with Israel should be viewed in that light.

The gravity of the current situation in Gaza and the global students’ protest have led universities in Norway, Spain and Belgium to suspend ties with Israeli research entities. The University of Barcelona has gone further by demanding the EU to block the participation of Israeli institutions in all projects financed with European funds.

To comply with the ICJ Order, the EU must freeze all privileges extended to Israel, in particular participation in EU research programs, until it complies with the ICJ Order, withdraws from Gaza and satisfies the Court that it has not been committing genocide. The resumption of the EU-Israel agreement and all further agreements should be conditional on Israel conforming to international law and the EU’s own ethical guidelines: until Israel fulfills all its legal obligations and ends its occupation, discrimination and repression of the Palestinian people.

You yourself, Mr. Borrell, called Israel’s operation on Saturday June 7 which killed over 270 Palestinians to free 4 hostages a “massacre” and stated “the bloodbath must stop”. The bloodbath will not stop so long as Israel is supported by the EU; and the EU shares responsibility for the bloodbath in the eyes of the world. We call on the EU to stop assisting Israel.

Yours respectfully


Dr. Nozomi Takahashi, Chairwoman of Belgian Academics and Artists for Palestine/Belgian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (BA4P/BACBI)

Prof. Em. Ivar Ekeland, Chairman of French Association of Academics for Respect for International Law in Palestine (AURDIP)

Prof. Em. Jonathan Rosenhead, Chairman of British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)

Dr. Sue Blackwell, on behalf of Dutch Scholars for Palestine (DSP)

Dr. María José Lera, on behalf of Red Universitaria por Palestina (RUxP)-University Nework for Palestine, Spain