A DECISION by the University of Southampton to host a conference questioning the legitimacy of Israel’s right to exist as a nation has been criticised by two Members of Parliament.

The three-day symposium planned for April is called ‘International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism’.

Mark Hoban, Fareham MP, urged the university to reconsider hosting the event, adding: “It is a hard-line, one-sided forum questioning and delegitimising the existence of a democratic state.”

Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North, said the university’s reputation was being threatened by the “one-sided event.”

A petition on the change.org website against the event has so far gained 3,000 signatures but a spokesman for the university defended the conference, saying, “The University of Southampton is committed to academic freedom, free speech and opportunities for staff and students to engage with a wide range of opinions and perspectives.  Discussion and critical thinking are fundamental to our institution.”