Paris university refuses to cut ties with Israel amid pro-Palestinian protests

As university campuses around France shut down in the face of pro-Palestinian protests, administrators at the prestigious Sciences Po university in Paris refused to accede to demands to end partnerships with Israeli institutions. The higher education minister has asked university presidents to quell protests using all means at their disposal.

At a two-hour “town hall” debate held at Sciences Po in Paris on Thursday, administrators refused to consider ending its partnerships with Israeli companies or universities, as demanded by protest leaders.

The celebrated university has become the epicentre of pro-Palestinian student protests in France, which have spread around the country.

Its campus in Lille was closed on Thursday, while access to the northern city’s ESJ journalism school was limited.

'Difficult' debate

The interim director of Sciences Po, Jean Bassères, told reporters that the university’s debate – attended by more than 300 people, including students, professors and employees – was “difficult”, with “strong positions taken and lots of emotions”.

The town hall was one of the conditions students set for calling off their occupation of the Paris campus last week.

Saying he preferred to “prioritise dialogue with the students”, he acknowledged that refusing their demand for a working group to rethink the school’s links to Israeli partners could anger some protesters.

(with newswires)

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