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LSE Students’ Union votes to twin with the Islamic University of Gaza

6 December 2009

LSE Students voted by a clear majority in the most recent Union General Meeting, 26 November, to twin their students’ union with the Islamic University of Gaza, which was targeted by the IDF in the attack on Gaza earlier this year.

The motion passed by a 30 percent majority. It comes three years after a twinning motion with An-Najah University in the West Bank was passed.

The motion mandates the LSE SU to support the campaign to open up its subscriptions to electronic journals with universities in occupied Palestine and to name a room in the new students’ union building after a Palestinian student killed by the IDF.

The Islamic University of Gaza was bombed by Israeli war planes on Sunday 28 December, causing US$15m worth of damage. It has not been reconstructed due to the siege by IDF, who have refused to allow construction materials and educational resources into Gaza.

The right to education is enshrined in international law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states that “Everyone has the right to education”, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), recognizes that “Education is both a human right in itself and an indispensable means of realizing other human rights.” However, the Israeli occupation systematically denies this human right to Palestinians.

In Gaza the blockade inhibits the importation of educational resources as well as construction materials, health and food supplies and prevents the movement of people. Over 600 students are prevented from leaving Gaza by the IDF, including LSE offer holder and Honorary President of the LSE Students’ Union, Othman Sakallah. In the West Bank a network of over 600 checkpoints and the apartheid wall inhibits freedom of movement and prevents students from reaching their lessons. Children, students and teachers, like the rest of the Palestinian population, are subject to mass arrests and violence from IDF. Over 300 children are currently held in Israeli prisons and detention centres, many without being charged of any crime, where they are denied their right to education.

The LSE SU Palestine Society campaigns for justice for Palestinians on the LSE campus. It was the first Palestine Society in the UK to successfully pass a motion in the Students’ Union meeting to divest from Israel. LSE students voted in January to condemn the attack on Gaza. After the motion, 40 students occupied the Old Theatre, one of the main lecture theatres on the LSE campus, in protest at the attack on Gaza and the refusal of the LSE to support the campaign for the right to education for Palestinians or to divest from Israel.

Mira Hammad, the Chair of the LSE SU Palestine Society, called on all universities to “open up their electronic journals for access by Palestinian Universities as a practical way of advancing the right to education and defeating the 61 year long abuses of this international principle of justice by the Israeli regime”.

Samer Araabi, the proposer of the motion, stated that “this is an opportunity for some of the most disadvantaged students on the planet to realise their ambitions and work their way out of the abominable situation they find themselves in”.

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