Supreme Court Recommends that Israel’s Military Allow Palestinian Doctoral Student to Study in Israel

Wednesday, October 18, 2006, Tel Aviv: In a court challenge today of a sweeping ban preventing Palestinian students from studying at Israeli universities, Israel’s Supreme Court recommended that the military reconsider the totality of its ban. The Court gave Israel’s military seven days to respond to an additional request by Gisha that Sawsan Salameh, a doctoral student in chemistry, be permitted to enter Israel for the time in which she needs to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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 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. Gisha revealed the existence of the ban in its court petition on behalf of Ms. Salameh.

The prohibition, which has been criticized extensively in the international media, prevents all Palestinian students accepted to Israeli institutions of higher learning from receiving permits to enter Israel in order to study.

The ban prevents Ms. Salameh, a 29-year old resident of Anata in the West Bank, from studying for a PhD. This is because there is no recognized doctoral study program at universities in the Palestinian territories. Ms. Salameh, an elected village council member in Anata and a feminist leader there, has been trying for eight months to reach her studies. She has been promised a full scholarship.

In Wednesday’s hearing, Gisha argued that the sweeping ban violates Israeli and international law. Gisha asks that requests by Palestinian students to enter Israel be considered individually, rather than rejected automatically.The military does not allege that permitting Ms. Salameh to enter Israel poses any threat to Israel’s security.

According to Ms. Salame: “I want to get a PhD in chemistry not just for myself, but also to advance science education for all Palestinian women and men”.

According to Sari Bashi, Director of Gisha: "We hope that the military will heed the court’s recommendation and permit Ms. Salameh to reach her studies. But the military needs to cancel the overall ban, not just to make an exception in Ms. Salameh’s case.”