The case of Palestinian doctors from East Jerusalem, who the Israeli Health Ministry and Council for Higher Education have prevented from working, presents Israel with a question: Are Palestinian institutions foreign or domestic?
The Jerusalem District Court this week ordered the Israeli Health Ministry to stop playing politics with the professional futures of 55 Palestinian doctors and to allow them to practice medicine in Israel.
Why were the medical school graduates of Al-Quds University denied the opportunity to work in Israeli hospitals in the first place? The Health Ministry refused to allow them to take medical certification exams because Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE) has yet to distinguish Al-Quds School of Medicine as either an accredited Israeli or foreign university, Haaretz reported.
But surely, if Israel does not consider Al-Quds University an Israeli institution of higher learning then it must be a foreign university? Not so in Jerusalem.
When a nation’s borders don’t quite end where most of the world has agreed they do (the pre-1967 borders), as is the case in Israel, determining what institutions are foreign and domestic becomes complicated. The Health Ministry’s justification for denying Al-Quds medical school alumni the opportunity to work in Israeli hospitals is largely a bureaucratic excuse based on a situation that Israel created when it annexed East Jerusalem.
Here’s the ministry’s twisted logic: one of Al-Quds University’s campuses is located within the Jerusalem municipal boundaries but others, where the majority of students attend, are located in the West Bank, including the Al-Quds School of Medicine, which is in Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem. The CHE has said it cannot recognize the university as an Israeli institution because it has campuses in the West Bank. However, the CHE also says it cannot designate Al-Quds as a foreign university because one of its campuses is located in East Jerusalem, which Israel claims as sovereign territory.
It’s a case of Israel wanting to have it both ways, unwilling to grant the university, or its individual schools, either domestic or foreign status, which leaves Al-Quds and its students stuck in post-graduate limbo. If Israel did not hold authority over East Jerusalem, the school could easily be designated a foreign university and Palestinian students could take their licensing exams as international students. But it’s never so easy when borders and territory are disputed.
Al-Quds University chose a...Read More