Israel’s Military Insists on Ban on Palestinian Students

Thu., November 9, 2006 – In response to Gisha’s petition against the sweeping ban that prevents Palestinian students from entering Israel to study at Israeli universities, the State told Israel’s Supreme Court that it will give entrance permits to Sawsan Salameh, the Palestinian student accepted to a doctoral program in chemistry at the Hebrew University, for a period of no more than six months total and will not allow her to obtain an academic degree.

The state made it clear in its statement to the court that the sweeping ban would continue to apply to all other Palestinian students – and that Ms. Salameh would not be allowed to enter Israel beyond the six months period. The state claimed that its position is based on a law restricting the entrance of Palestinians to Israel.

In a response to be filed with the court later today, Gisha argues that six months is not enough time for any doctoral student to complete a doctorate – and that Ms. Salameh’s study program requires her to be on campus for a period of years, to participate in classes and seminars and to meet with the professor guiding her doctoral work. Gisha is asking the court for a hearing, to allow Ms. Salameh to start – and complete – her studies, and to cancel the total ban. Gisha argues that despite the law, the military has the authority to let Ms. Salameh into Israel for her studies – and it has an obligation to do so.

Gisha notes that there is no recognized doctoral study program at universities in the Palestinian territories, and the prohibition prevents Ms. Salame from studying for a PhD.

Gisha will continue its legal and public battle, until Israel’s military allows Palestinian students to study at the Israeli academic institutions that accept them, subject to an individual security check. Gisha emphasizes that the total ban violates the basic rights of Palestinian residents and also the academic freedom of the Israeli academy. Israel’s major universities have already asked the Defense Minister to allow them to admit all qualified students – irrespective of national origin. The military’s ban has paralyzed Israeli academic programs developed specifically to create a new generation of Israeli and Palestinian leaders, who can study and work together.

In the words of Attorney Noam Peleg from Gisha: “The military’s cynical proposal — that Ms. Salameh be given six months to finish a doctoral program and that no other Palestinian students be allowed into Israel — prevents talented young people from accessing education. Gisha will continue its legal and public advocacy, until the ban is canceled”.