During a press conference held at Birzeit University’s Media Institute on May 25, 2005, 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.