Fear over access to Arab campus

August 12, 2005

As Israel prepares to disengage from Gaza, lecturers at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem - the only Arab university in the city - fear increased restrictions.

Al-Quds has buildings in the old city and in Palestinian areas. As the withdrawal nears, a lecturer at Al-Quds, who preferred not to be identified, said: "Teachers and students have only one way to get to the Al-Quds University campus in Abu Dis from Jerusalem without a car.

"They use a small gate in the wall, built for security reasons, which separates Israeli and Palestinian land." The gate is in the grounds of a monastery that will cease to be accessible when the wall is completed in September.

Students and faculty would not be able to stay late on campus and their movements would be restricted, especially if they needed permits, the lecturer said.

"If students can't go to Abu Dis and they can't get to the other Palestinian universities, such as Birzeit or Bethlehem, where will they go?" he added.

Elsewhere in Israel, education officials do not anticipate the disengagement to have any impact on the higher education system, despite the growing violence according to Yecheskel Taler, deputy chairman of the Council for Higher Education.

But he said it could affect individual colleges such as the Sapir Academic College, which had been close to missile attacks. He said that the political situation had not affected enrolment at the college so far.

And there is little student political protest over the disengagement, according to Enav Shimshi, a philosophy student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

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