Statement on Gaza and Israel

UHasselt holds freedom of expression, academic freedom, and respect for human rights in high regard. We cannot and will not turn a blind eye to the terrible escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – and we sympathise with the many victims on both sides. We also understand the intense emotions this conflict evokes. As a warm, socially engaged civic university, we emphasise the following:

We condemn the educide in the Palestinian Territories. UHasselt explicitly condemns the destruction of Palestinian educational institutions by the Israeli military, particularly given the crucial importance of education and research for the development of societies – and for the future of everyone involved.

Together with other Belgian universities, we actively strive for the reconstruction of higher education and research infrastructure in the Palestinian Territories as soon as local conditions permit. Acting swiftly and creating real impact are our priorities. For instance, UHasselt is considering possible actions within VLIR-UOS (such as hosting academic staff, funding mobility programmes to prevent brain drain, expanding capacity for online and blended learning). We also urge the federal government and the European Commission to take tangible steps in this regard.

We support every form of open dialogue at UHasselt. Universities have traditionally been places for discussion. The numerous initiatives of the ‘UHasselt Palestine Solidarity Network’ and other supporters – debates, (guest) lectures, photo exhibitions, roundtable discussions with the University’s policy team – are fully endorsed by UHasselt.

We critically examine collaborations with Israel. All collaborations with Israeli partners are meticulously scrutinised and reviewed by the UHasselt Human Rights Commission according to the procedure established in the VLIR Human Rights Test. For the sake of transparency, we point out the following:

  • UHasselt has no institutional agreements with Israeli universities. The Human Rights Commission has the mandate to critically monitor and assess all future developments in this area.

  • Recent analysis shows that no human rights violations have been found in the context of current collaborations. Given the rapid changes inherent in a war situation, the Human Rights Commission will continue to screen and re-evaluate these collaborations.

  • One recent application for (new) collaboration with an Israeli partner was rejected. Regarding an ongoing collaboration, the Human Rights Commission decided that it could be completed. However, the initiation of any new research activities within this particular collaboration must be re-evaluated by the Commission.

We request the EU to provide guidelines for assessing collaborations with Israel. Clear guidelines from the European Commission are needed to properly assess whether Israeli partners participating in EU-funded research projects comply with the imposed ethical standards. UHasselt refers to the recent letter (end of May) on behalf of the Flemish and French-speaking universities to the European Commission and reiterates the request for such guidelines.

We ask Israeli partners for a commitment to human rights. For several years, UHasselt has included a human rights clause in all future new collaborations with partners worldwide. We ask our current Israeli partners to also sign a statement in which they unequivocally commit to respecting human rights, freedom of expression, and academic freedom.


UHasselt aligns with the broad social consensus that the violence must stop and calls on all governments and international organisations to work towards a ceasefire.