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Concerns over Israeli ban on foreign academics' entry into West Bank

Aug. 3, 2018 1:44 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 8, 2018 12:02 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Campaign for the Right to Enter the Occupied Palestinian Territory expressed concerns, on Thursday, regarding the rise in Israel's denial of work or stay visa applications submitted by foreign nationals seeking to enter the occupied West Bank saying this measure is undermining Palestinian education.

According to Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa News Agency, seven international faculty members from the Palestinian University of Birzeit (BZU), in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, one-third of the international staff at the university were refused visa extensions in June by Israeli authorities, while several other members were obliged to leave the country.

The Campaign said in a statement that this policy "has severely diminished opportunities for development of faculty, courses, and research programs at Palestinian institutes of higher education."

The Campaign added that since 2017, foreign nationals wishing to maintain a presence in the West Bank, whether for work or family reasons, have faced an enormous escalation in the rejection of visa extension requests, as well as obstacles and restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities.

The statement mentioned that "Palestinian educational institutions have been hard hit by Israeli denials or restrictions on entry and presence in the occupied Palestinian territories," explaining that Israel's denial of requests has undermined Palestinian universities and caused serious disruption to foreign academic programs.

The Campaign called upon the international community to help protect the Palestinian people's right to education and for an immediate halt to Israel's unjust practices of denying entry or stay to foreign nationals traveling to the occupied West Bank seeking to promote educational development in Palestine.

In addition, Birzeit University (BZU) was the only Palestinian university to enter the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2018.

From a pool of 26,000 universities worldwide, Birzeit was in the top three percent -- about 950 universities -- of the best universities in the world, according to a statement from the university.

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