The decision by eminent physicist Stephen Hawking to not attend the Presidential Conference organised by Israel's President - Shimon Peres - has aroused dismay by his Israeli hosts and applause from the Palestinian academic community.
This year's Presidential Conference is expected to attract 5,000 attendees from around the world, including academics, artists and former heads of state.
Former US president Bill Clinton, former UK prime minister Tony Blair, former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev, Prince Albert of Monaco and Barbra Streisand have accepted invitations- according to organisers.
Hawking'sreasons for cancelling his earlier acceptance of the invitation were set out in writing to the event organisers:
Iaccepted the invitation to the Presidential Conference with the intention that this would not only allow me to express my opinion on the prospects for a peace settlement but also because it would allow me to lecture on the West Bank.
However, I have received a number of emails from Palestinian academics. They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this, I must withdraw from the conference.
Had I attended, I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster.
Were the reasons Hawking gave really those that led to his refusing to attend?
What does Hawking mean by stating that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster?
After all the current Israeli Government has reiterated it stands ready to resume negotiations with the PLO without pre-conditions - which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected.
Hawking must surely be aware that Abbas has taken unilateral steps outside the negotiating processes laid down under the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap including:
- Disbanding the Palestinian Authority - the party designated by the Oslo Accords to negotiate with Israel on a final peace treaty
- Seeking and gaining admission of Palestine as a member state of UNESCO and a non-member State observer at the UN
- Declaring himself President of the country of Palestine on 3 January this year and traversing the world's capitals seeking recognition and the establishing of ambassadors and embassies in the world's most recently created country.
What steps does Hawking believe Israel must now take to avert disaster? How can Israel be expected to do anything to advance Oslo and the Roadmap when Abbas has repudiated both signed agreements by proclaiminga country outside the terms of those agreements?
What in the emails from the Palestinian academics persuaded Hawking to not attend the conference?
Discuss in our Forums
See what other readers are saying about this article!
Click here to read & post comments.
23 posts so far.