Despite Court Recommendation: Israel’s Military Requests Delay And Still Will Not Let Palestinian Student Reach Hebrew University

Wed., October 25, 2006 –  Despite the Supreme Court recommendation that the military find a way to let Sawsan Salameh, the Palestinian doctoral student from Anata, reach her studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel’s military still will not let her reach her studies and has asked the Supreme Court for a delay of two weeks, until the 3rd week of the semester. Today was the court-imposed deadline for the state to respond to Ms. Salameh’s request. Meanwhile, the first semester has begun this week, and Ms. Salameh is missing her classes.

Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Gisha’s petition against a ban against Palestinian students studying at Israeli universities. The prohibition prevents all Palestinian students accepted to Israeli institutions of higher learning from receiving permits to enter Israel in order to study. The sweeping policy was exposed in the petition filed by Gisha on behalf of Sawsan Salameh.

The ban prevents Ms. Salameh, a 29-year old resident of Anata, from studying for a PhD in chemistry. This is because there is no recognized doctoral study program at universities in the Palestinian territories.

Today, the state asked the court for an additional two weeks to respond to Ms. Salameh’s request to study, saying that it needed additional time to bring the matter before senior officials.

Gisha opposed the state’s request for a delay of two weeks, asking that the state respond no later than Sunday, Oct. 29. Gisha also asked the court for an urgent hearing, because each day that passes endangers the possibility that Ms. Salameh will be able to begin her studies this semester, especially in light of the classes she has already missed. Gisha calls upon the military not just to allow Ms. Salameh to study, but also to cancel its total ban on Palestinian students studying in Israel and to evaluate the request of each student individually.

Israel’s Education Minister, Israel’s Science Minister, and six out of seven of Israel’s major institutions of higher learning have joined Gisha’s call, asking the Defense Minister to cancel the ban.

In the words of Attorney Noam Peleg of Gisha: "The delay that the state seeks threatens to make Sawsan’s studies this semester impossible. Gisha asks the court for an urgent hearing."