UK university backs Palestinian right to education
London, March 2(IRNA) Students at the University of Manchester in northern England are backing the Palestinians right to education by seeking links with al-Najah University in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Nablus.
The right to education is being led by Birzeit University in the West Bank, which has been closed down by Israeli military forces 15 times in its history.
In a motion to be debated next Wednesday, the University of Manchester Students Union (UMSU) is proposing to send a twinning invitation to their al-Najah counterparts and erect a plaque `Palestine and the Right to Education' in its Steve Biko building.
Over one third of the Palestinian population are students in full-time school or university education, but the Israeli army has shelled and destroyed eight of the 11 universities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since September 2000, the motion says.
According to a copy obtained by IRNA, it also points out that students are prevented from attending al-Najah University by Israel's illegal barrier wall and two major checkpoints that enclose the entire city.
Students from Gaza are already banned from reaching the eight Palestinian Universities in the West Bank.
In the case of Birzeit, the number of Gazan students was reduced from 350 to only 35 by April 2005, UMSU said.
The motion warns that the future of many Palestinian universities are at "grave risk" due to the blanket curfews, 700 Israeli army roadblocks and other military obstacles, including the recently constructed barrier wall.
These "violate international law, including provisions against collective punishment and guarantees for the protection of civilian populations under military occupation, students' right to education and fundamental rights of human beings," it said.
UMSU said it was raising the concerns with colleagues in the National Union of Students to encourage further support for the right to education for Palestinian students.
It warned that a whole generation of Palestinian students were denied an education when Israel closed down all Palestinian universities and the majority of schools by military orders between 1988 and 1992.