The UK government has been urged to “stand up for Palestinian students and educators”, in a letter sent yesterday by Friends of Birzeit University (Fobzu) and representatives of major education unions.
The letter, signed by the heads of the University and College Union (UCU), National Education Union (NEU), and Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), as well as the deputy general secretary of NASUWT and national secretary for education at UNISON, expresses “concern about the declining access to the occupied Palestinian territory and the impact this is having on Palestinian education”.
Writing to Minister of State for the Middle East, Alistair Burt MP, the signatories highlight “the growing restrictions on foreign national faculty working at universities in the occupied West Bank” imposed by Israeli occupation authorities.
This “practice”, the letter continues, “is not isolated but one of a number of harmful policies adopted by Israel over more than five decades of military occupation that attack Palestinian education and culture, in breach of Palestinian rights enshrined in international law”.
The signatories “call upon the UK government to play an active role in upholding its international obligations and the Palestinian right to education”, including by responding “to calls by Palestinian universities” to “support international efforts to hold Israel accountable for its violations”.
The government is also urged to “stand up for Palestinian higher education and demand an end to Israel’s arbitrary and harmful practice of restricting and denying access of Palestinian universities to international staff contributing to Palestinian educational life.”
Finally, the letter also asks Britain to “defend Palestinians’ right to education by taking action to ensure Israel fulfils its international obligations and adopts an entry and residence policy for foreign nationals in the oPt that is clear, documented and transparent.”