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McGill ending negotiations with campus pro-Palestinian encampment

University also planning disciplinary action against people participating
Supporters stand in front of the pro-Palestinian protest encampment on the downtown Montreal McGill University campus, Monday, June 17, 2024. McGill University says it is ending negotiations with pro-Palestinian activists at an encampment on its downtown campus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

McGill University says it is ending negotiations with pro-Palestinian activists who are occupying the lower field of its downtown Montreal campus.

The university is also planning disciplinary action against people participating in the encampment, which began in late April.

“Despite our ongoing efforts to discuss in good faith, the representatives of the encampment have maintained that their demands are non-negotiable while accusing the university of unwillingness to engage in fair discussions,” McGill president Deep Saini said in a statement Tuesday.

“As it has become clear that no fruitful outcome will result from these talks, we are ceasing discussions.”

Last week, encampment organizers rejected McGill’s latest offer, which proposed to explore divesting from weapons manufacturers, to disclose more investments to include holdings below $500,000 and to fund students and scholars affected by the crisis in the Middle East.

The protesters, meanwhile, have said they won’t leave until the university ends its investments connected to Israel’s military and cuts ties with Israeli institutions.

Saini said the university will move ahead with its proposal, despite the failure of the negotiations. But McGill had also offered amnesty to students and staff participating in the encampment, which is now off the table. “As our proposal was rejected, the university will pursue disciplinary processes against individuals participating in the encampment to the full extent outlined in our policies,” the statement reads.

Organizers of the encampment are set to hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

The university says the encampment has led to “a series of completely unacceptable incidents” since it began more than 50 days ago. The statement points to the occupation of the university’s main administration building by pro-Palestinian protesters earlier this month, which led to 15 arrests.

It also mentions photos of Palestinian resistance fighters holding assault rifles that were used to advertise what protesters called a “revolutionary youth summer program” that began this week at the encampment.

“Despite efforts to reach out and hold discussions with the encampment, these behaviours have only escalated, and have continued to result in substantial costs and disruptions, including the relocation of convocation away from lower field,” Saini said.

Last month, a Quebec judge denied an injunction request from McGill, saying the university had failed to demonstrate an urgent need to dismantle the camp. The university is now seeking an interlocutory order to evict the protesters, but the case has not yet been heard.

McGill has also requested help from police. But on Monday, Montreal police said the encampment is a civil dispute and they don’t yet have a legal basis to intervene.

READ ALSO: ‘Revolutionary education’ begins at McGill pro-Palestine encampment