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West Bank Civil Administration Withdraws Pledge Requirement

November 23, 1982
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The civil administration on the West Bank announced today that it has withdrawn the requirement that all foreigners seeking work permits in the territory must sign a pledge to refrain from “any act or the rendering of any service to the Palestine Liberation Organization or any other hostile organization as defined by law.”

Instead, the text of the pledge has been incorporated into the application for a work permit which each applicant must fill out and sign. The immediate reaction by foreign academics at West Bank universities who refused to sign the pledge on grounds that it was a political infringement on academic freedom, was that the change is merely cosmetic, intended to stifle the storm of controversy and criticism the pledge requirement has generated in Israel and abroad.

Israeli legal officials insist, however, that there is a substantial difference. Although the text is identical, the applicant is no longer required to sign a pledge but merely to sign a form to the effect that he or she has been warned that their work permit will lapse should they engage in any act in support of the PLO or any other hostile group, the officials say.

According to some observers, this difference, though subtle, should enable foreign academics on the West Bank to sign the application without compromising the principles of academic freedom. So far 21 foreign lecturers and teachers at West Bank universities have been forced to leave the country for refusing to sign the pledge. The Israeli authorities refused to renew their work and residents permits on expiration.


Pressure to rescind the pledge requirement mounted in recent days, especially after reports in the Israeli media that it would be extended to foreign clergymen and women who work at social, educational and medical institutions on the West Bank.

The matter received world-wide attention when U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz sharply criticized the pledge requirement at a press conference in Washington last Thursday and urged the academic communities in Israel and elsewhere to speak out against it.

Israeli authorities defended the requirement on grounds that the pledge was similar to those demanded by immigration authorities in the U.S. and other West countries. Nevertheless, the demarche by the civil administration exposed differences within the Israeli government as to the wisdom of the policy.


Prof. Leighton Pratt, an Irish assistant professor of English at Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah, said on Israel Radio today that he and his colleagues saw “no difference at all” between the new rule and the old one. He stressed that the text which they found objectionable has been transplanted intact into the expanded work permit application form.

Pratt ran into a similar problem when he was teaching in Cracow, Poland in the 1960s and refused to sign a pledge to the effect that he did not support Zionism.

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