Following a petition filed by Gisha: The state retracts its refusal and allows a PhD student from the West Bank to attend his studies at Hebrew University
On September 1, 2013, Gisha filed a petition with the Tel Aviv District Court sitting as the Court for Administrative Affairs, on behalf of Mr. Shakarneh. Mr. Shakarneh, a Palestinian resident of the West Bank, had been accepted to a PhD program offered by the Department of Geography at the Hebrew University. However, his request for a permit to enter Israel for his studies was denied by the army on the erroneous grounds that an alternative program was available in the West Bank.
The army's response was based on the provisions of the "Procedure for the entry of students from the Judea and Samaria Area for studies in Israel" (Hebrew), which stipulates, among other things, that residents of the West Bank will be allowed to conduct their PhD studies in Israel only when no practical alternative is available in the West Bank. Inquiries made by Gisha revealed that none of the eight universities in the West Bank offer a PhD program in geography. Moreover, the options available for PhD studies in the West Bank are limited and currently only one university offers PhD programs: one in chemistry and the other in physics.
Ahead of a scheduled preliminary hearing on the petition (set for September 30, 2013), presiding judge Dr. Daphna Avnieli wrote in a decision that in view of the arguments raised in the petition "the respondents would do well to re-evaluate the matter, and, if necessary, consider whether the request should be granted based on the grounds provided" (Hebrew). On September 29, one day before the scheduled hearing, the respondents issued a notice stating that the original refusal had been reversed and inviting the petitioner to contact the army in order to obtain a permit. After the permit was granted, the petition was withdrawn and Gisha was awarded 3,000 NIS for legal costs.
Mr. Shakarneh began his PhD studies at the start of the academic year, as planned. His research focuses on the use of water resources in the Dead Sea area – a topic expected to be of benefit both to residents of Israel and the Palestinian territory, who share the same water resources.