A petition that demands the University divest its endowment from holdings in Israel had been signed by 683 Princeton community members as of early March, and students expressed dismay over President Christopher Eisgruber ’83’s remarks on the subject at the February meeting of the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC).

Princeton Israeli Apartheid Divest (PIAD) launched late last fall with a rally and the petition, which urges the University to “not participate in both the ongoing massacre in Gaza and the continued implementation of Israel’s apartheid regime, which has been enabled by investments in companies and institutions that have worked to enact and normalize Israel’s violence against Palestinians for decades.”

The petition demands that Princeton divest and dissociate from companies affiliated with Israel until a ceasefire is reached, and that Princeton work with Palestinian institutions.

PIAD has not received a formal response from the University. But at the Feb. 19 meeting of the CPUC, Eisgruber answered questions related to the petition, doxxing, and the University’s institutional restraint policy and divestment procedures. He said it is extremely rare for Princeton to take such a drastic measure as divestment, and it would only occur “after multiple years of engagement.”

“Under the standards of the University, there has to be consensus around [divestment], and there’s the opposite of that on issues involving politics in the Middle East,” Eisgruber said. “There’s a sharp disagreement.”

Students silently made their voices heard by holding up red thumbs-down signs.

“People should disagree with one another about things,” Eisgruber said, “and you’re disagreeing now. I’m OK with that. Your thumbs can be down — that’s fine. Disagreement is what we do.”

As the meeting concluded, students chanted “we will not rest until divest.”

According to PIAD organizers, who asked not to be named because of safety concerns, about 30 to 40 of the group’s student leaders are working with alumni who have led past divestment campaigns, students at other universities, and local groups to build support for the divestment campaign.

In 2014, a CPUC subcommittee announced there was not enough consensus or sustained interest to consider a petition calling for divestment from Israel, and the following year, undergraduates declined to vote in favor of a similar referendum.