Supreme Court to Hear Petition Against Sweeping Ban on Palestinian Students Studying in Israel

Thu., December 14, 2006 – On Monday, December 18, 2006, Israel’s Supreme Court will hear the petition submitted by Gisha seeking to overturn a sweeping ban against Palestinian students studying at Israeli universities.

The petition was submitted on behalf of Sawsan Salameh, an outstanding Palestinian doctoral student in chemistry admitted to the Hebrew University on a full scholarship, but prevented from reaching her studies by the military.

The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and its lecturers are asking to join the petition in order to protest the violation of their academic freedom to admit qualified students, irrespective of nationality. The Arava Institute is the premier environmental teaching and research program in the Middle East preparing future Arab and Jewish leaders to cooperatively solve the region’s environmental challenges. Because of the military ban, the Institute has been unable to enroll qualified Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza.

The court hearing will be held on Monday, December 18, 2006 at 9:00 AM. Sawsan Salameh, the Palestinian doctoral student, and Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian faculty, students, and alumni of the Arava Institute will attend.

Following the submission of the petition, the state agreed to issue Salameh an entrance permit for a period of no more than six months – which is not enough time to complete her doctoral studies. The State refuses to cancel the sweeping ban.

Gisha attorneys Noam Peleg and Sari Bashi will ask the Court to revoke the comprehensive prohibition and to allow Palestinian students to study in Israel, subject to an individual security check. The heads of Israel’s universities (excluding Bar Ilan), the Minister of Education, the National Academy of Science, and members of Knesset have joined Gisha and the Arava Institute in demanding that the ban be canceled.

According to David Lehrer, Arava Institute Director: “The ban has greatly impacted the scope and impact of our mission, which is to foster regional cooperation”.

According to Attorney Noam Peleg of Gisha: “We ask the court to order the military to stop vetoing the decisions of the admission committees of Israeli universities”.