1. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel states, “The State of Israel…will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace…it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.” These are the founding values and principles established by Israel 66 years ago, and those are the values and principles the State hold sacred today and will continue to uphold into the future.
2. The accusation that Israel arbitrarily limits the entry of foreign nationals who seek to lecture, teach and attend conferences at Palestinian universities is baseless.
3. Foreign academics who are invited to lecture in the West Bank are free to enter, unless there are exceptional security concerns. As is common border control practice in countries worldwide, there are accepted procedures and regulations – defined by the law – determining the entry of foreign citizens into the West Bank. This procedure is part of the Interim Accords signed by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
4. There are no restrictions on foreign academics from teaching in the West Bank. Foreign academics who follow the official procedures and obtain a visa/permit are free to enter the West Bank. This minimum requirement of applying for a visa/permit is a routine procedure all over the world.
5. Academics can extend their permits by applying to the relevant authorities. Well over 90% of these requests are approved.
6. If the academic also holds Palestinian travel documents (as well as a foreign passport), then the request will be processed using the Palestinian documentation, as is standard procedure with border control for most countries. This will not affect their entry into the West Bank, unless there are exceptional and concrete security concerns.
7. The entry permits – as with visas all over the world – are time limited, but as mentioned above, can be extended with relative ease.
8. Gaza Strip: Since Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the region has become an extremely hostile and dangerous area. Countless and ongoing attacks by Hamas terrorists of various kinds such as rockets, terror squad infiltrations and terror tunnels pose an immediate threat to the lives of Israeli civilians. Because of these threats, and in order to save civilian lives the crossing of individuals and goods to the Gaza Strip are carefully monitored and limited to humanitarian cases.
9. Nevertheless, Israel is working to expand the number of permits given to Gazans who wish to cross to the West Bank, as the security situation allows. Under no circumstances are students and/or academic professionals being discriminated in the crossing procedure. In fact, academic professionals are among the first to receive these permits.
10. As an example, just this week, on December 30, 2014 Israel helped facilitate the crossing of 54 students from Gaza to the West Bank.
11. Israel hopes to continue with this policy as long as it is not being exploited by terrorists and as long it does not pose a threat to Israeli lives.
12. Also, it is important to emphasize that the Rafah Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt is a functioning crossing, allowing entry to Gaza from Egypt.
In 2012, 142 Americans were denied entry to Israel, out of about 626,000 who entered Israel. This puts the refusal rate at about 0.023%. Importantly, this is more or less the annual average. It is important to note that Israel does not collect entry statistics regarding the religion, race or ethnicity of its visitors. The American refusal rate for Israeli applications for "B" visas was 5.4% in 2012.
Steps aimed at protecting the security of the citizens of Israel are taken by Israeli border control officials at the port of entry, including the inspections of electronic devices. Similar steps, of the same nature and purpose, are also taken by the United States and other countries. In this regard, Israel is no different than the U.S.
Education in the Palestinian Authority:
In recent years, Palestinian higher education has developed rapidly. Enrollment and graduation rates have grown exponentially, and in the year 2009-2010 there were 196,625 students in the Palestinian Authority (for comparison in the year 2007-2008 there were 180,956 students and in the year 2006-2007 there were 174,823 students). Today there are 49 recognized higher education institutions under the PA, 34 of them in the West Bank.
Moreover, higher education in the PA is growing at such a rate that the PA intends to capitalize on this success and convert this sector into a 'Palestinian Export', bringing in students from all over the region.