Petition filed on behalf of a PhD student from the West Bank whose application to study at the Hebrew University was refused based on an erroneous argument, AP 778-09-13 Shakarneh v. Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories
In order to obtain a permit to enter Israel to attend his studies, Mr. Shakarneh contacted the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) through the Palestinian District Coordination Office (DCO). The request was supported by a letter from the university program coordinator and was addressed to the COGAT public liaison officer, as per the "Procedure for the entry of students from the Judea and Samaria Area for studies in Israel". The procedure 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.
On June 13, 2013, the program coordinator received COGAT's response (Hebrew), stating that the applicant's request had been denied on the grounds that an alternative was available for the relevant field of study in the West Bank. When the coordinator contacted Gisha for advice, she learned that this was not in fact the case as none of the eight universities in the West Bank offers a PhD program in geography. Moreover, the options available for PhD studies in the West Bank are extremely limited, and currently only a single university offers two PhD programs: one in chemistry and the other in physics.
Following this, on June 20, 2013, Gisha sent a letter (Hebrew) to the COGAT public liaison officer explaining the error in the original response and asking that the applicant's request be approved. As no response was received (including after a further letter was sent to the State Attorney's Office), and given that the start of the academic year was approaching, a petition (Hebrew) was filed on behalf of Mr. Shakarneh with the Tel Aviv District Court sitting as the Court for Administrative Affairs, seeking to enable him to exercise his right to education before this option ceases to be available to him.