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Arab Students at Bethlehem University Go on Strike

About 1,200 Arab students at Bethlehem University went on strike today to protest orders by the civil administration to eight foreign lecturers to cease their teaching activities immediately.

The orders were issued last Friday to four American and four British instructors who refused to sign a commitment not to “aid the Palestine Liberation Organization or any other hostile organization.” The pledge is a requirement for renewal of work and resident permits on the West Bank.

So far, 21 foreign lecturers at three West Bank universities have been forced to give up their jobs and leave the country because they would not sign what they regard as a political document which compromises their academic freedom. Israel has drawn a sharp rebuke from Washington for demanding the commitment as a condition of employment.

Apparently in response to that and to protests from academic circles in Israel, the civil authorities dropped the special pledge form last week but incorporated its text into the application for a work permit. The civil administration insists that the pledge is an essential part of the overall fight against PLO influence in the territory.

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