UK academics are planning a boycott of Israeli universities

Several hundred British-based scholars have vowed not to work with Israeli universities in the biggest academic boycott of the country.

The 343 academics have pledged to refuse invitations to visit educational institutions in Israel, take part in conferences in which they are involved or "otherwise cooperate with them".

The signatories include some of Britain's most respected professors, and feature fellows of the Royal Society and the British Academy. They are protesting at human rights abuses against Palestinians.

In a statement published today, they say their action is prompted by "Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian land, the intolerable human rights violations that it inflicts on all sections of the Palestinian people, and its apparent determination to resist any feasible settlement".

Those taking part include Sir Tom Kibble, emeritus professor of theoretical physics at Imperial College London, and Sir Iain Chalmers, co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration.

But Ronnie Fraser, director of Academic Friends of Israel, said: "Less than a quarter of one per cent of the 194,245 academics working in the UK have expressed a wish to boycott Israeli universities."

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