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Restrictions Eased on Students and Faculties of Universities on the West Bank

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The civil administration on the West Bank has eased up on restrictions it had imposed on students and faculty of universities in the territory. The decision was announced by Gen. Yigal Karmon, acting head of the administration, at a meeting with officials of Bir Zeit, Najah and Bethlehem universities yesterday.

One of the measures suspended was Decree 854 which prohibited university lecturers and students guilty of security offenses from teaching or studying unless they obtained special permission from the civil administration. The suspended regulation had also required students from East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip to obtain permits to study on the West Bank.

The civil administration has, in addition, softened the wording of a declaration that foreign nationals and East Jerusalem and Gaza residents are required to sign as a condition for employment at West Bank universities. The original document contained a pledge not to support the Palestine Liberation Organization or any other “terrorist organizations” directly or indirectly. The new version replaces the words “terrorist organizations” with “hostile organizations” and omits the words “indirect support.”

The civil administration also announced a one-year freeze of enforcement of a military order requiring students to submit to identity checks at road blocks set up near the universities.

There are no indications that these changes are related to the resignation of Menachem Milson last month as head of the civil administration. Milson, a hard-line appointee of Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, quit in protest against the government’s initial refusal to authorize an official commission of inquiry into the Beirut massacre. He did not withdraw his resignation when the government reversed itself and was replaced temporarily by Karmon.

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