US withdraws scholarships to Gaza students
Published Monday, October 15, 2012
The American Consulate in Jerusalem has withdrawn scholarships awarded to students in Gaza to study in the United States after Israel announced it would deny them permission to travel outside the coastal enclave, the Associated Press reported Monday.
"Under Israeli pressure, US officials have quietly canceled a two-year-old scholarship program for students in the Gaza Strip, undercutting one of the few American outreach programs to people in the Hamas-ruled territory," the AP reported.
It added: "The program now faces an uncertain future, just two years after being launched with great fanfare by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during a visit to the region."
The program, launched in 2010, offered about 30 students from the West Bank and Gaza scholarships to study at US universities.
Israel, which has imposed a paralyzing land, air and sea blockade on Gaza since 2007, allowed the students to travel when the program originally launched, but now cites security concerns over its decision to deny them travel permits.
Israel bans Palestinians of Gaza from travelling to the West Bank except in rare cases. The ban also applies to students who want to travel to the West Bank to study.
Israel's supreme court last month upheld the ban after rights groups petitioned to allow five students from Gaza to travel to the West Bank for a master's program.