Israeli university heads are demanding that the defense ministry stop preventing them from enrolling Palestinian students.
The Council of Heads of Universities sent a letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, signed by the rectors and deans of six universities asking him to respect their academic freedom.
Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are not allowed to enter Israel without permission from the army.
“Since its establishment, the State of Israel has carefully maintained a tradition of academic freedom,” the letter said. “We expect the military to maintain this tradition and to limit its involvement to matters in its area of authority, meaning security evaluations only. Israeli universities open their gates to all those who meet the academic demands, irrespective of race, sex, religion or nationality.”
Signing on to the letter were Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University, the Technion, the Weizmann Institute, Haifa University and Ben-Gurion University.
Also Tuesday, five Israeli professors asked the Israeli Supreme Court to allow them to join a petition against restrictions on Palestinian students entering Israel to study at institutions of higher education submitted by Gisha-Legal Center for Free Movement.
Gisha’s request was submitted as part of the center’s challenge to the military’s power to decide on the admission of Palestinian students to Israeli universities.
The policy compels department heads to justify their academic considerations before the military and to persuade military officials of the wisdom of their decision to admit Palestinian students.