The Israeli peace group, Gush Shalom, has sharply criticized a decision to hold a criminologists’ conference in the settlement of Ariel, deep inside the West Bank.
On Sunday, Gush Shalom sent a series of letters to Israeli and international criminologists who are due to lecture at the conference, entitled ‘Pink Crime – Women, Crime and Punishment’ reminding them that the conference itself is complicit in a serious breach of international law.

The conference is located at the ‘University of Samaria’ in the settlement of Ariel, which is in the heart of the West Bank – internationally recognized Palestinian land. The settlement colony of Ariel is of considerable strategic importance because it sits on a major water source, facilitating Israeli control of the Mountain Aquifer.

The letter points out that the conference cannot be a ‘purely academic’ event for the simple reason that by holding such a conference in Ariel, participants are normalizing and implicitly condoning a grave violation of article 49 of the 4th Geneva convention.

The letter asks that if the lecturers decide to ‘go through with lecturing at the Ariel conference,’ despite Ariel’s status under international law, then lecturers should ‘devote a few words at the beginning of your lecture to the contradiction between the goals of the conference, designed to reduce the effects of crime in human society, and the severe violation of International Law constituted by the conference’s location.’

All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law, because they are built for Israeli civilian purpose in occupied Palestinian territories.