Spain Bans Israeli Team from Competition

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ARIEL, Israel - Spanish officials disqualified a team of Israeli college students from Ariel University in Samaria from a solar power design competition because their school is located in "the West Bank."

The Solar Decathlon competition will evaluate designs for solar-powered homes from teams from 20 universities worldwide.

The contest is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. But Spain, which is financing and hosting the event in 2010 and 2012, dictates who can take part.

"Spain acted in line with European Union policy of opposing Israel's occupation of Palestinian land," one Spanish Housing Ministry official, who asked not to be named, said.

Ariel University officials rejected the ministry's decision.

"[Ariel University] rejects with disgust the one-sided announcement we received from the Spanish Housing Ministry…the anti-academic decision harms 10,000 students, including 500 Arab students who study there."

"The decision is an expression of the illegitimate political struggle that contravenes international law and international charters on academic freedom," read a statement to The Associated Press.

Following an evaluation of the Israeli team's entry for the solar-power design project, the Ariel University students were among the 20 finalists chosen to take part in the contest.

On September 11, the Spanish Housing Ministry notified the Israelis and the U.S. Energy Department that the team had been banned from the competition.

Source: The Associated Press

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