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Palestinian university employees protest amid absence of PA support

April 4, 2017 4:39 P.M. (Updated: April 8, 2017 7:44 P.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip on Tuesday launched a series of protests against what the head of the federation called an "attempt by the Palestinian Authority (PA) government to clear itself of any responsibilities towards university staff.”

University employees from campuses across the West Bank and Gaza organized a sit-in strike on Tuesday, suspending classes for one hour.

Among the participating universities were Birzeit University in the Ramallah district, al-Najah University in Nablus, al-Quds University in the Jerusalem-area town of Abu Dis, Hebron University, Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron, al-Quds Open University campuses across the West Bank, Palestine Technical University in Tulkarem, the Arab American University in Jenin, and al-Azhar University in Gaza.

The federation announced that the next protest would invite all employees of universities across the Palestinian territory to stage sit-in strikes outside the buildings of the Palestinian Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance, and the Legislative Council in Ramallah.

Head of the federation Amjad Barham said that the decision to begin a series of protests was made after the federation's council held a meeting earlier this week to “discuss a recent decision by the Higher Council of Education to clear itself of all financial and administrative duties towards Palestinian universities.”

Additionally, various Palestinian news websites reported that the recent decision "clears the council of its role in arranging relationships between unions, the Ministry of Education and boards of universities."

The Higher Council of Education was established by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the late 1970s, and became a body of the Ministry of Education after it was established in 1996. The council is responsible for drafting and enacting the rules that all higher education institutions in the occupied Palestinian territory must adopt.

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