NATFHE conference 2002  endorses its position on Palestine 

This compromise motion below was put before conference as a result of unfavourable publicity for the union in the Times Education Supplement, the Academic Friends of Israel campaign and several extreme amendments which were proposed before conference: 

“Conference endorses the position taken by the NEC and the General Secretary on Palestine.”  

The NATFHE National Executive Committee, at its meeting on 3 May 2002, agreed the statement below and that it would form the basis for the wording of an emergency motion to conference. Below is the motion that was dropped and was replaced by the one above:  

Conference is appalled at Israel’s incursion into Palestinian territory in April and the suicide bombings, which were the ostensible cause, both actions resulting in deplorable suffering and loss of innocent lives. However, Israel must be held accountable by the international community given the disproportion between horrific suicide bombings, and killing an unknown number of Palestinian civilians, flouting basic humanitarian principles and international demands for restraint, and the devastating blow to Palestinian society, destroying educational, civic and cultural structures, negating Israel’s stated anti-terrorist mission, and suggesting that Israel wants to turn the Palestinian territories into Bantustans, dominated by Israeli  illegal settlements. 

At the same meeting, the NEC endorsed the following statement:  NATFHE deplores the recent act of desecration at a North London Synagogue and other similar acts around the country.  

Following the Israeli incursions into the Palestinian Authority's territory during March/April 2002,

NATFHE issued the following statements and resolution: 

15 April 2002


The attached text prepared by a joint session of HEC and FEC on 13 February has been agreed as a statement in the name of the NEC on the recent events in Palestine. NATFHE has been kept informed of developments as they affect Bir Zeit University by the Friends of Bir Zeit University (FOBZU), and one of these messages is also attached.  

The university is in the village of Bir Zeit, near Ramallah, one of the targets for Israeli operations. The university was closed on 30 March by the Israeli invasion of Ramallah, but many students live in Bir Zeit village, where virtually every house was searched and a number of students were arrested for unknown reasons. A university campus security man was badly beaten up by Israeli soldiers. 

 FOBZU bulletins have described in detail the scale of the damage to the Palestinian educational infrastructure, from destruction of offices and records at the Ministry of Education, to wrecking the educational broadcasting facilities, to wanton destruction of schools, sometimes taking them over as military posts. The trauma arising among a civilian population almost 50% of which is under 15, of seeing their homes and communities destroyed, parents humiliated, and their streets turned into battlegrounds, is hard to over-estimate. 

At the time of writing Bir Zeit University and village are no longer occupied by the Israelis, but the students' freedom of movement is severely restricted by the curfews and roadblocks, as well as by the heightened tension resulting from the Israeli military presence and the trauma of the recent events.  

13 April 2002  


NATFHE National Executive Council regrets the deaths of so many Palestinians and Israelis. NATFHE NEC is dismayed at the illegal and barbaric incursion of the Israeli Defence Force into areas under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, including Palestinian Universities and Colleges, which has led to the death and injury of several hundred Palestinian civilians including staff and students.  

NATFHE NEC urges Israel immediately to:
a) Lift the siege of Yasser Arafat's Headquarters
b) Withdraw all forces from Palestinian Authority areas.
c) Open negotiations with the Palestinian Authorities in order to implement UN resolutions.
d) Allow free access to Palestinian Universities and Colleges for staff and students.

NATFHE NEC further resolves that all UK institutions of Higher & Further Education be urged immediately to review - with a view to severing - any academic links they may have with Israel. Such links should be restored only after full withdrawal of all Israeli forces, opening of negotiations to implement UN resolutions and the restoration of full access to all Palestinian HE & FE institutions. 

Carried unanimously 13 April 2002