British cosmologist Stephen Hawking has pulled out of an Israeli conference, joining an academic boycott of Israel to protest against its occupation of Palestinian lands, Cambridge University said on Wednesday.
The wheelchair-bound Hawking, who has won international recognition for his work on black holes, had been due to speak at a prestigious conference in June organized by Israeli President Shimon Peres that draws hundreds of leading world figures.
However, his name was quietly dropped from the list of participants earlier this week, giving a major boost to supporters of pro-Palestinian groups that want to isolate Israel on the international stage over the continued occupation.
“This is his independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there,” the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine said on its website.
Cambridge University, where Hawking works, confirmed that the statement had been approved by the professor. Hawking did not issue any statement in his own name.