LETTER: Short-sighted West Bank raids

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The Independent Online
Sir: The detention of Palestinian students at Bir Zeit University (29 March) shows how depressingly little has changed on the West Bank since the Oslo accords.

The Israeli army gave as one reason for the arrests the need to round up students "staying in these areas illegally".

Bir Zeit University in the West Bank offers a number of courses not available at institutions in the Gaza Strip. Under the Oslo Declaration of Principles, the Israelis pledged to treat the West Bank and Gaza as a single unit. They have not done so, and young people from Gaza who obtain university places in the West Bank are required to have special permits. These are issued for a very limited period and the authorities may then confiscate or fail to renew them.

Palestinian access to tertiary education will promote and protect the desire for peace; mass round-ups and blindfolding students will have the opposite effect. They will make young people even more susceptible to the argument by groups such as Hamas that negotiation has failed and political violence is therefore legitimate.

Sarah Smalley