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Restrictions on foreign nationals working in Palestinian universities

UCU has written to the Israeli authorities challenging their increased restrictions and limitations on international academics working at universities in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).

The letter, from UCU general secretary Jo Grady, notes that 'the restrictions on international academics entering, staying and teaching in the oPt, have been one major source of isolation and disruption for Palestinian universities', and 'over the last three years the number of work permit delays and refusals has risen markedly'.

The letter goes on to urge Israel to 'meet its international legal duties and end the imposition of arbitrary restrictions on international academics staying and working in the oPt, and as a matter of urgency, to establish a clear and lawful procedure for issuing entry visas and work permits necessary for the proper functioning of Palestinian universities'.

Read the full letter below.

Click here for further details about campaigning on this issue, led by Birzeit University.


2 October 2019

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu
Fax: +972-2-566-4838
pm eng@pmo.gov.il

Minister of Justice Amir Ohana
Fax: +972-2-6467085
sar@justice.gov.il

Minister of the Interior Aryeh Machluf Deri
Fax: +972-2-670-3733
Email: sar@moin.gov.il

Minister of Education, Rafi Peretz
Chairman, Council for Higher Education of Israel
Email: sar@edu.gov.il

Dear Prime Minister and Ministers

We are writing to you on behalf of staff working in the UK education sector to express our deep concern about the increasing restrictions imposed on international faculty working at Birzeit University and other higher education institutions in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt). We have learned from our Palestinian colleagues of the harmful impact this is having on their universities and the right to education for Palestinians.

Higher education in the oPt has long suffered from policies practiced by the occupation authorities. The restrictions on international academics entering, staying and teaching in the oPt, have been one major source of isolation and disruption for Palestinian universities. As in the UK higher education sector, the proper functioning of Palestinian universities relies on the contribution of international faculty at every level. Over the last three years the number of work permit delays and refusals has risen markedly. Moreover, the process for applying for permits has become increasingly lengthy and onerous with requirements frequently changed. Permits that are approved are often for periods that fall short of a full academic year.

Israel's policy towards international academics breaches its obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. As an occupying power, Israel is obliged to maintain the normal functioning of Palestinian civil institutions, including those of higher learning. The right to education for Palestinians is also enshrined in international human rights and international humanitarian law. We therefore join other trade unions and professional bodies around the world calling upon Israel to meet its international legal duties and end the imposition of arbitrary restrictions on international academics staying and working in the oPt, and as a matter of urgency, to establish a clear and lawful procedure for issuing entry visas and work permits necessary for the proper functioning of Palestinian universities.

We look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully
Dr Jo Grady
General Secretary

Last updated: 3 October 2019