started this petition to
Palestinian PM, Rami Hamdallah & Minister for Education, Sabri Saidam
(Signatories - please sign this online petition and also print out a hard copy, sign and email or deliver to your nearest Palestinian embassy or consulate).
We write on behalf of 831 academic
and administrative staff of Palestinian universities, university colleges and
institutes in the Gaza Strip, Occupied Palestine.
In April 2017, the Palestinian Authority, based in Ramallah, Occupied West Bank,
unilaterally slashed the salaries of the 831 staff mentioned above, instituting
sudden, unexpected and unjustified wage cuts of up to 85%, leaving the
academic and administrative staff with just 15% of their salaries every month
Despite this wage cut, which left the majority of the staff without enough
money to survive, the committed staff continued to teach and perform their
duties as before.
In August 2017, following these drastic pay cuts, Palestinian president Mahmoud
Abbas announced that the entire staff complement of all 831 tertiary education
personnel would be placed, along with other civil servants, without any
consultation whatsoever, on early retirement.[i]
This is a grave violation of Palestinian Basic Law, Civil Service Law and
International Labour Law. Moreover, they are a breach of international treaties,
such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (ICESCR) to which the PA
is a signatory.
None of the staff, whether academic
or administrative, were given any valid reason for this unjustified action
which is purely punitive. The forced retirements were reported by the
Palestinian media as having been motivated by a factional hatred on the part of the ruling
party in the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) for Hamas: PA spokesman Yousif
al‐Mahmoud stated in July 2017 that the decision ‐‐ as well as "previous
procedures and any possible future procedures in this regard" [ii]‐‐ were temporary moves
seeking to pressure Hamas to hand over control over the small coastal enclave
to the PA.
This is a grave and unjustifiable
infringement on academic freedom without any fair or logical basis, as it must
be pointed out that the University staff in the Gaza Strip are not
Hamas‐appointees. As is the case with university lecturers and administrative
staff at universities all over the world, the staff are either completely
apolitical or have individual political allegiances to a plethora of different
organisations or parties which are not related to their work in any way.
Following the announcement of forced early retirement, the academics then wrote
to the President of the European Commission, Jan Jonker, to protest this
draconian action. On 26 August 2017, the Palestinian academics were then
suddenly informed that they would be “re‐hired” (even though their forced
retirement had not yet taken effect).
However, they were told by the Palestinian Authority that they would only be paid their
monthly pensions, which are a tiny percentage of their actual salaries. So,
effectively the academics have been forced into early retirement but are still
expected to work - for a fraction of their former salaries.
Many of Gaza's academic staff have
outstanding academic qualifications from international universities all over
the world, have returned to Gaza to make a contribution to the education of
young Palestinian school leavers, and are under the age of 50. All of these unethical
decisions were made by the PA without formally informing the employees, in a
move meant to humiliate them for no apparent reason.
All measures taken against
civil servants based in the Gaza Strip amount to a form of collective punishment [iii]
based on a policy of exclusion of a particular component of the Palestinian
people. They have also been strongly condemned by major Palestinian human
None of these staff have ever
requested early retirement or to have their salaries slashed down to pension
level, or 10% or 15% or to any tiny amount unilaterally decided upon by the
Palestinian Authority. It is obvious that the university staff cannot continue
surviving on a tiny fraction of their salaries as these reduced payments are
now in their sixth month.
We are extremely concerned about the fate of the 26000
students who attend the universities, university colleges and other tertiary
institutes in Gaza. These students quite literally have absolutely no other institutions
in which they can receive a tertiary education.
We are very concerned that the Palestinian Authority is effectively
dismantling all tertiary education in the Gaza Strip, and that if they are
allowed to do this, they will begin a concerted attack on secondary and primary
education in Gaza.
It is a heinous action to deprive predominantly young people of their
inalienable right to education and we appeal for urgent intervention.
This action of educide
must be seen in the light of the brutal 69 year old occupation and colonisation of Palestine by the Israeli regime and the ongoing and barbaric Israeli siege of Gaza, which includes
a total ban on imports of basic goods and exports of all Palestinian goods,
severe restrictions on construction materials and cooking gas, and the
obstruction of hundreds of gravely ill Palestinians every month, who have been
referred for medical treatment to Israeli or West Bank hospitals, according to
the Gaza‐based Palestinian Committee for Human Rights.
Palestinians in Gaza have also
suffered tremendously this year with the Palestinian Authority's decision to
cut off electricity to the Gaza Strip, with 2 million Palestinians who already
received only a tiny four hours a day of electricity, being completely disconnected.
This disconnection led to the deaths of more than 25 terminally ill patients
including toddlers, in hospitals that were left without power, as well as the breakdown of
sewage pumps, and a mass outflow of sewage into the sea as a result, according
to the UK‐based
NGO Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).[v]
No human being
can live without clean water, electricity, food or education, or freedom of
movement. We fear that if there is no international intervention against the
Palestinian Authority over the forced retirement of all university staff, it is
likely that the PA will move to terminate all secondary and primary education
staff too, effectively shutting down the entire education system for 2 million
We call on you to
reverse the punitive measures against the Gaza Strip, in
general, and against the education and health sectors in particular, as these
measures punish the civilians and threaten their livesin a
way that violates all international norms and conventions that lay down
obligations on governments to respect human dignity.
We demand that the
Palestinian Authority cease their punishment of Palestinian university staff in
Gaza, permanently revoke any threat of forced early retirement, pay the full
salaries with immediate effect and back pay the staff the salary amounts that
have been confiscated since April 2017.