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Cambridge University to negotiate student protest demands on Israel ties

Students demand the university cuts ties with companies complicit in 'ethnic cleansing of Palestine'
The student encampment on Cambridge's iconic King's Parade (AFP)
The student encampment on Cambridge's famed King's Parade (AFP)

Negotiations between England's University of Cambridge and student protesters are set to begin this coming week, according to activist group Cambridge for Palestine.

The encampment began on 6 May when around 100 students gathered on the lawn outside King's College, one of Cambridge's constituent colleges. They erected tents and demanded the university commit to divesting from companies involved in Israel's war on Gaza

Cambridge for Palestine told MEE that they are demanding that the university discloses all its relationships with companies and institutions "complicit in the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine".

They said they want the university to end all such relationships, support Palestinian students and academics, and commit to protecting academic freedom. 

The protest escalated on Wednesday morning, with students occupying the graduation lawn outside Senate House, the ceremonial centre of the university, after climbing over its surrounding fences.

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A graduation ceremony was set to take place there on Friday and another on Saturday. 

On Thursday evening, protesters vacated the graduation lawn and returned to the main encampment outside King's College after the university agreed to open negotiations with the protesters. The graduation ceremony on Friday morning, however, was still held at Cambridge's Downing College instead, according to student newspaper Varsity.

Cambridge for Palestine told Middle East Eye on Sunday that negotiations with the university are set to begin in the coming week. 

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MEE revealed last week that according to the Trinity College Student Union, the college council at Trinity, Cambridge's wealthiest constituent college, voted to divest from all arms companies.

The student union said the college decided not to announce the move publicly after an activist defaced a portrait of Lord Arthur Balfour inside Trinity.

In February, MEE reported that Trinity had £61,735 ($78,089) invested in Israel's largest arms company, Elbit Systems, which produces 85 percent of the drones and land-based equipment used by the Israeli army.

The college also has millions of dollars invested in other companies arming, supporting and profiting from Israel's war on Gaza.

In response to a request for comment, Trinity did not confirm or deny that the college council voted to divest from arms companies, but told MEE on Monday that "Trinity College continues to review its investments regularly".

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