Foreign Teachers Continue to Balk at Signing Anti-terrorist Pledge

Some 100 foreign academicians teaching at West Bank universities will continue to refuse to sign an anti-terrorist pledge demanded by the civil administration even though the form of the document has been changed.

A decision to that effect was taken at a meeting in East Jerusalem Monday but the administration was not immediately notified of it. The document requires the applicant to sign an undertaking not to support the PLO or any other hostile group as defined by law as a condition for obtaining a work permit in the territory.

So far, 21 foreign lecturers have been forced to leave the country and two others are expected to leave in a few days when their work permits expire.

Originally, the pledge was a separate form. In response to widespread protests in Israel and abroad, the civil administration, which operates under the Defense Ministry, incorporated the text into the regular application form for a work and residents permit. The heads of Arab universities on the West Bank acknowledged that this represented “some change.” But the instructors insisted that the change was only cosmetic because the objectionable text remained intact.

They said they would willingly sign a commitment not to support a hostile organization but not one which mentioned the PLO by name. They maintained that to do so would be tantamount to taking sides in a political dispute and therefore an infringement on their academic freedom.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Shlomo Illia, an army intelligence officer, is expected to be named shortly as the new head of the civil administration on the West Bank. He will replace Hebrew University Prof. Menachem Milson who resigned in September because of the government’s initial refusal to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry into the west Beirut refugee camps massacres.

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