While there, a senior official told me about something that happened not too long ago.
Ariel University was in negotiations to partner with two US universities on various initiatives as universities partner with each other all the time. (I was told which ones they were but am not permitted to name them.) One was intended to be a general partnership, the other was a specific partnership with the architecture school at Ariel which is well-regarded.
|Old map of proposed fence including Ariel|
Both those negotiations were abruptly cancelled.
When officials at Ariel asked the schools what happened, they were told (off the record) that the US State Department had put pressure on the American schools to stop any partnerships with Ariel University since it is in the territories.
There is no US law against partnering with schools in so-called occupied territories. There is no international law against it either. This was an initiative by Israel's greatest ally to actively work against Israeli policy and Israeli democracy. In any conceivable peace agreement, Ariel would remain in Israel, even though Palestinians claim that it destroys their contiguity. (It doesn't: the city of Jerusalem itself goes much further east than Ariel does.) Anyone who actually takes the time to visit Ariel itself would see that it is not realistic to consider dismantling it and forcibly moving its 20,000 residents somewhere else. (Which, by the way, I would argue would violate the very same Geneva Conventions article that is used to claim that "settlements" are illegal, but that is a discussion for another day.)
The State Department is working against Israel and is taking sides against Israel before any final status negotiations. The schools involved are too scared and vulnerable to push back.
This is a new low for the State Department in working clandestinely against its greatest Middle East Ally.
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