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Military Government Decides to Reopen Bir Zeit University

The Military Government on the West Bank, in a surprise reversal of policy, will allow the Bir Zeit University here to reopen. The Arab school was closed after students participated in anti-Israel demonstrations last May 2, Israel’s Independence Day The Military Government informed the administration over the weekend, however, that it would now consider the “reopening of the university in an affirmative mood.”

The change came on the direct orders of Defense Minister Ezer Weizman who only a few weeks ago had described Bir Zeit University as the “spearhead of hostile activities,” a charge denied by the administration. Weizman met with Dr. Gal Baramki, vice president of the university, last Friday.

The meeting, described as very friendly, presumably led to Weizman’s decision to lift the ban on condition that the university sticks to “studies alone” and refrains from political activities. According to Baramki, “We have always done” that The academic year has ended meanwhile and classes are not expected to resume until the fall.

The Bir Zeit faculty received the news of the reopening joyfully. In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Baramki praised the Military Government, He said its decision was not an indication of weakness but rather an expression of courage since it reversed an earlier decision to keep the school closed indefinitely.

In another development, the Military Government apparently is not about to take legal measures, against Arabs who participated in demonstrations in Nablus two weeks ago protesting the new Gush Emunim settlement of Elon Moreh. The participants included the mayors of Nablus and other West Bank towns. Files were opened on many of them but so for no one has been brought to trial and there were hints today that the matter would be shelved. No official reason was given for the relaxation.

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