U.S. cancels scholarships for Gaza Strip students

Under Israeli pressure, American officials drop funding for Gazans to attend West Bank universities

Published October 15, 2012 3:18PM (EDT)

 Birzeit University, West Bank (Wikimedia)
Birzeit University, West Bank (Wikimedia)

Under pressure from Israel, the U.S. has canceled scholarships for students in the Gaza Strip. Launched just two years ago during Hillary Clinton's visit to the besieged region, the program offered 30 scholarships for Palestinian young people to attend local universities.

Israel this month ruled that travel permits will be refused to students from the blockaded Gaza Strip to the West Bank to study under the scholarship program. According to the Associated Press, the American consulate in Jerusalem said it decided not to grant the scholarships over the summer after Israel said it would not permit the students to travel. ‘‘Because of the timing and risk of losing funding, available scholarships were awarded to other applicants,’’ it said. ‘‘We hope to include Gazan students in future programs.’’

The Jerusalem Post reported that "Israel approves travel from Gaza to the West Bank for about 4,000 people a month, despite a general ban on travel." An Israeli High Court upheld the travel ban for students, even those with U.S.-funded scholarships, ruling that the travel ban should only been contravened for medical or humanitarian reasons.

‘‘When you live in Gaza, you’re a pawn in a greater political game,’’ said Amal Ashour, a student who lost her U.S.-sponsored scholarship to a West Bank university this year. "There's nothing we can do about it," she told the A.P.

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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Education Israel Israel-palestine Middle East Palestine Scholarships