Israel to decide which foreign lecturers allowed to teach in Palestinian universities

Palestinian students at their graduation ceremony at Birzeit University, near Ramallah (AFP)

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  March 8, 2022

Defence ministry brings in new regulations concerning international students and their teachers.

Israel’s defence ministry reportedly plans to decide which foreign lecturers are allowed to teach in Palestinian universities in the occupied West Bank and what topics they are allowed to teach.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, a new set of rules issued by the ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) will allow Palestinian institutions in higher education to employ lecturers from abroad only if they meet specific criteria defined by Israel.

Those lecturers and researchers need to be “outstanding”, with at least a doctorate. They have to submit a visa application at the Israeli consulates in their countries before travelling to the West Bank.

COGAT is setting a limited number of teaching visas, which would not exceed 100, according to Haaretz.

The new rules were issued last month by army generals at COGAT but will come into effect beginning of May.

There will also be a yearly limit of 150 visas issued to international students who would like to study in Palestinian universities. 

Haaretz reported that COGAT and the Defence Ministry will have the power to restrict the academic subject taken by international students, who also need to go through an interview at the Israeli consulate as part of their visa application.

One document COGAT asks to be submitted as part of the visa application by students or lecturers is an official invitation letter issued by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Lecturers and students’ visas will be valid for a year, with the possibility of extension. Lecturers can teach for five non-consecutive years at maximum, but they have to depart the country for nine months after 27 months of teaching, in order to comply with Israeli regulations.

International students can stay for four years to complete their graduate or post-doctoral degrees, and then they have to leave.

These new procedures will include all students and academics travelling to the West Bank from countries that had diplomatic ties with Israel, including the United Kingdom and European Union.

However, according to Haaretz, citizens of Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, who all have diplomatic ties with Israel, can only apply for shorter teaching and studying visas under stringent rules.

The new rules will also decide the visa time of workers at NGOs in the Palestinian areas and for investors and business people who would like to work in the West Bank.