File - Palestinian university students surround the car of British Consul General Sir Vincent Fean as he leaves Bir Zeit University on March 5, 2013 near Ramallah. AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI
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The expulsion of an Israeli journalist from an academic conference hosted by a top Palestinian university has unleashed a fierce debate about academic freedom in the West Bank.Hass, who writes for the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz, is a popular figure in Ramallah, one of a few dovish Israeli Jews who live in the Palestinian city.In Israel, she is well known – and reviled by some – for her scathing criticism of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. Hass, who said she has been to the university dozens of times previously, decided to leave.He said that while he personally favors interaction with Israelis, the current attitude on campus is that "supporters of the occupation" should not be welcomed.He said he could not remember the last time an Israeli official had spoken on campus and could not envision leaders of moderate Israeli parties being invited. Since a second Palestinian uprising began in 2000, Israel has imposed a number of restrictions that prevent most Palestinians from entering Israel and bar Israelis from Palestinian areas in the West Bank.That contrasts sharply with the situation 20 years ago when thousands of Palestinian workers came to Israel on a daily basis, and many Israelis visited the West Bank for shopping, eating and sightseeing. Israel's committee of university heads said it rejects any academic boycott.Uri Savir, a former Israeli peace negotiator, said he believes the young Palestinians who reject contact with Israel are a small but vocal minority.
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