Israel places further restrictions on foreign lecturers and students wishing to teach at and attend Palestinian universities in the occupied West Bank

Update: Following challenges and objections to the procedures by Adalah and other human rights organizations, COGAT published new procedures on 4 September 2022. They are slated to go into effect in October 2022.  Click here to read the new procedures


On 26 May 2022, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a detailed letter to Attorney General (AG) Gali Baharav-Miara, the Israeli Chief Military Advocate General Sharon Afek and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Ghassan Alian on behalf of Bir Zeit University demanding that the “Procedures for entry and stay for foreigners in the Judea and Samaria area” [West Bank] be amended to ensure the freedom and institutional autonomy of Palestinian higher education institutions in the West Bank, and brought into compliance with international law.


                CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s letter


                CLICK HERE to read the COGAT Procedures


The letter was sent by Adalah’s General Director Attorney Dr. Hassan Jabareen and Adalah’s Legal Director Attorney Suhad Bishara.


On 30 February 2022, the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) published the new procedures. The procedures, inter alia, place onerous restrictions on foreign lecturers, researchers, and students wishing to enter the West Bank to study or teach at Palestinian universities.


In 2019, Birzeit University, Adalah and Al-Haq challenged Israel’s escalating discriminatory policy aimed at preventing international academics from staying in the West Bank and refusing to renew visas for those with teaching contracts. In its 2019 letter, the university and organizations demanded the publication of a clear and lawful procedure for issuing entry visas and work permits for international academics in the West Bank, similar to those now enabling the entry of foreign lecturers teaching at Israeli universities. In March 2021, the Israeli Defense Ministry informed Adalah that it is currently reformulating its regulations concerning entry to the West Bank, and will take into consideration issues raised by Adalah.


Read more about the 2019 challenge


In the May 2022 letter, Adalah argued that the procedure grants broad competencies and almost absolute discretion to the military to intervene in the academic freedom and institutional independence of Palestinian universities in the West Bank. Adalah further argued that the procedure imposes far-reaching (academic and personal) restrictions on both lecturers and researchers, as well as students, seeking to enter the West Bank for teaching and learning purposes, and that these conditions violate the right to development and self-determination of Palestinians in general.


Photo: Aerial view of Birzeit University campus (Birzeit University Public Relations Office)