Citing “European Union political guidelines” regarding “occupied territories,” the Spanish Housing Ministry has disqualified a group of Israeli academics from competing in a Solar Decathlon held every two years, because they are from the Ariel University Center of Samaria, located over the Green Line.
Engineers, architects, solar experts and other students from universities around the world participate in the competition, which is organized by the US Department of Energy and has been held, until now, in Washington.
Under a 2007 agreement between the US and Spain, however, the next decathlon is scheduled to take place next month in Madrid.
The delegation from Ariel, which together with 20 other university selections has reached the competition’s finals, worked for two years designing and building a self-sufficient house that employs solar power as its only source of energy, and uses half the energy needed to operate a regular house.
The team was even given a grant of €100,000 to subsidize their project, called the “Stretch House” and said to be inspired by the “tent of Abraham,” because it can expand to meet its owner’s wishes.
But despite all the hard work, the university received a letter from the Spanish government on Friday, disqualifying its team.
“We would like you to know that an Israeli university would always be welcome to participate in this competition,” the letter from the Spanish ministry read. “However, the fact that your center is actually located in the occupied territories, and being obliged to respect the European Union position in relation to this matter, we are forced to inform you that the continuation of your center in this competition will not be possible as from this date on.”