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Plan for West Bank Arab University Receiving Support from Israeli Authorities

Israeli authorities are actively supporting plans for the establishment of an Arab university on the West Bank, it was disclosed here yesterday. Deputy Premier Yigal Allon, who is Minister of Education, announced that he had approved of the project in principle when approached by West Bank Arab leaders. He said “there are good prospects of international funds contributing to the establishment and maintenance of such a university.” The site of the school apparently will be Ramallah, a prosperous, relatively quiet West Bank town north of Jerusalem which already has several training schools and a junior college. Plans call for an eventual student body of 2000 with courses taught in Arabic and English. It was proposed that admission be open to non-Arabs. The initiative for the project came from West Bank Arabs but it was welcomed by Israelis who see in an Arab university a force for stability and moderation. Such an institution with acceptable standards for accreditation could be expected to attract West Bank students who now attend universities in the Arab world and abroad, notably in the United States.

Israelis believe it would serve as an alternative to the radical Arab guerrilla movement that exerts a dangerous attraction for intelligent Arab youth. The evolution of the plan is obscure. It was believed to have been proposed two years ago to Defense Minister Moshe Dayan by prominent West Bankers, including the former Mayor of Ramallah who was later deported to Jordan for alleged subversion activities. It was subsequently brought up again and attracted the attention of Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem. He reportedly asked a five member committee to draft a proposal for an Arab university and the report was recently turned over to the Education Ministry. The committee suggested that the school be affiliated with a well known university in Britain and that it begin on a modest scale, perhaps preparing students for college entrance examinations at first.

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