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Press Conference: Federation of University Unions
Calls on All Parties to Uphold Palestinian Call for Boycott of Israeli
Academic Institutions

During a press conference held at Birzeit University's Media Institute
today, the Federation of Unions of Palestinian Universities' Professors
and Employees, Birzeit University Employees Union and the Palestinian
Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI),
together stated their support for the courageous decision taken by the
Association of University Teachers in the United Kingdom (AUT), on 22
April 2005, to boycott Haifa and Bar Ilan Universities in Israel as
institutions complicit in the illegal and violent occupation of
Palestinian land. They further voiced their strong condemnation of the
signing of an agreement between the President of Al Quds University, Dr.
Sari Nusseibeh, and the President of the Hebrew University.

Referring to the agreement, Dr. Mohammad Abu Zaid read out a statement
on behalf of the Federation, calling on the Board of Trustees of Al Quds
University and the Council of Higher Education to dismiss Dr. Nusseibeh
from his post as President of Al Quds University, for his direct breach
of the standing position of the Council against cooperation with Israeli
academic institutions so long as Israel's maintains its illegal military
occupation.

"At the height of the Israeli violations against international law and
the rights of the Palestinian people, including the construction of the
Apartheid Wall and the confiscation and dissection of Palestinian land,
the administration of Al Quds University, represented by its President
Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, signed a cooperation agreement with the Hebrew
University in direct opposition to national aspirations, general public
opinion and the stated opinion of a majority of academics and employees
of Al Quds University. The signing of the cooperation agreement with
Hebrew University comes at the precise time when efforts are being made
to overturn the recent decision by the AUT to boycott two Israeli
universities; it therefore entails a political decision to undermine
efforts to place pressure on Israel to end its illegal occupation and
comply with international law".

The Birzeit University Union, represented by Dr. Abdelkarim Abu Khashan
stated, "The Israeli military occupation, supported by Israeli academic
institutions, has attempted to undermine all efforts of Palestinian
academics to carry out their academic, social, and cultural mission. As
such, we strongly oppose the development of relations with Israeli
academic institutions as it is tantamount to maintaining the current
occupation and limiting Palestinians' right to education."

 

Dr. Islah Jad, a founding member of PACBI, stated during the press
conference that it was important for Palestinian, Arab and international
academics to unveil the truth about the Israeli illegal military
occupation and the complicity of Israeli academic institutions in
maintaining the current oppression. A statement by PACBI stated that
despite the possibility that tomorrow's meeting of the Special Council
of AUT may result in revoking the boycott motions made during the AUT
regular meeting on 22 April 2005, "the inspiring process of awareness
building and mobilizing that was launched in preparation for the AUT's
initial meeting will persist and can only grow... Just as in the South
African case, a comprehensive regime of sanctions and boycotts remains
not only the most politically effective but also the most morally sound
strategy in bringing about Israel's compliance with international law
and universal principles of human rights. With such international
pressure, the prospects for a just peace in our region will finally
thrive."

In response to questions from journalists, Dr. Abu Zaid stated that the
Federation was ready to take steps to ensure that the proper authorities
take disciplinary action against Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, for his
contravention of a Council decision and his deliberate attempt to
undermine the international movement working to place the necessary
pressure on Israel to end its violent and illegal occupation of
Palestinian territory and comply with international law.

 

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