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Columbia University protest met with pro-Israel rally. Here's where the campus negotiations stand.

Columbia protests reach 11th day as negotiations to leave encampment stall
Columbia protests reach 11th day as negotiations to leave encampment stall 02:42

NEW YORK -- Columbia University students remain camped out in protest on the school's main lawn, as they say pro-Palestinian demonstrators and university administrators have reached an impasse.

The scene near campus was quiet Saturday morning amid the stalemate in negotiations. NYPD has not reported any recent arrests related to the protests. 

Students and administrators have been trying to reach a solution that will lead to the protesters' encampment being dismantled.

Friday morning, a pro-Israel rally was held just outside Columbia's campus. Hundreds of Israeli supporters waved flags and chanted, calling for all the hostages in Gaza to be released. 

"I want the hostages to go back home, that's the only purpose why I'm here," an Israeli man named Idan Schaul said. 

Many Israeli families say they have not seen or heard from their loved ones since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

"My cousin ... is being held hostage in Gaza for 203 days," said Leat Corinne Unger. "It's unbearable, if I'm honest, but I tell myself that if it's unbearable for me, what is it for him?"

What is going on at Columbia University?

The pro-Palestinian encampment remained intact for a 10th day. Demonstrators set up the unsanctioned tent city last Wednesday, demanding the school agree to divest from companies that do business with Israel.

The protests continue as the end of the school year and commencement are approaching. While final exams may be taken remotely because of the unrest, graduation preps are still underway.

"If they want commencement to happen, they have the demands," said an encampment organizer named Majd, with National Students of Justice for Palestine.

One of the student protest negotiators told CBS New York they were in talks with the administration for 11 hours Thursday and continued talks Friday. Both sides said they've made progress, but the students insist they will not leave willingly until all their demands are met.

"Columbia has asked students to operate within the confines of bureaucratic red tape with no assurances of binding divestment decisions if we end the encampment," said Sueda Polat, a Columbia student and pro-Palestinian supporter and negotiator. "They believe they can outstand us. We tell them that they cannot. We have proved the power of the student movement ... It's inconceivable that we would agree to the university's propositions."

"It's very clear the university does not want to criticize Israel in any way. They don't want to be seen that they are punishing the Israeli occupation in any way," student protest negotiator Mahmoud Khalil said.

Sophomore Ava Lyon-Sereno is one of the student protesters inside the pro-Palestinian encampment.

"How I was raised was that to be Jewish means to know what it is to face oppression," she said.

"What do your parents think about this?" CBS New York's Ali Bauman asked.

"My parents are very supportive. I come from a family that has been very involved in activism for a very long time," Lyon-Sereno said.

Steps away from the tent city, Master's student Jonathan Swill was praying for his friend, Alon Ohel, who is among the 133 hostages being held by Hamas.

"I believe that they have the right to protest. I disagree with 'by any means necessary,' you know, 'resist and protest by any means necessary,' because canceling the graduation of 5,000 people ... is not a means that should be acceptable to anybody," he said.

Organizers of the encampment say there is no deadline for negotiations; they are taking things hour by hour. CBS New York has not yet received an official response from the university. In their last statement, they said a formal process is underway.

Jewish students, Palestinian students both voice concerns over treatment at Columbia

A group of students filed a federal civil rights complaint against the school Thursday, accusing it of discriminating against Palestinian students and their supporters.

"The treatment that I've gotten as a Palestinian student at Columbia has been horrible ... We want them to adopt a definition of anti-Palestinian racism," said Layla Saliba, one of the students who filed the complaint.

Jewish students at the university expressed their own concerns.

"On this campus, people chant that Zionists are not welcome, calling on quote 'death to the Jewish state,'" one student said.

Gov. Kathy Hochul was asked about campus safety at an unrelated event Friday. 

"My number one priority is protecting the safety of all New Yorkers, including students -- Jewish students, students protesting. Every student has to feel safe walking on their campuses, or else they're in violation of state and federal human rights laws," she said. "Every school is required, every school that receives state and federal funding has to create a non-discriminatory environment."

She says she's working with law enforcement to monitor the situation on and around campus.

"Free speech cannot devolve into threats of violence or violence," Hochul said.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visits the campus

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visited the campus Friday and chatted with demonstrators at the encampment. She told one of them she had delivered a speech on the House floor calling what is going on in Gaza a "genocide," and expressed support for the demonstrators. 

"Thank you so much for coming out here," one person told her. 

CBS New York learned the Columbia Senate has voted to form an investigatory committee to look into University President Minouche Shafik's handling of the protests, including calling in the NYPD to arrest more than 100 people at the encampment. 

Columbia's protests have sparked demonstrations at universities across the country, leading to hundreds of arrests as students clash with administrators and police.

Friday, Congressmen Mike Lawler and Ritchie Torres introduced legislation that would allow the Department of Education to impose a third-party antisemitism monitor on any university that receives federal funding. They named it the Columbia Act.

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