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memri
August 15, 2017 No.
7053

University Diploma Conferment Ceremony Sponsored By Palestinian President 'Abbas, Attended By Palestinian Authority Officials Also Honors One Of Israeli Minister Rehavam Ze'evi's Assassins

The Palestinian Authority (PA) personal and financial support for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons convicted of carrying out terror attacks extends to academia.[1] According to an August 11, 2017 report in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, these prisoners are also eligible for assistance in obtaining an academic degree, as part of a "special Prisoners Affairs Ministry and Education and Higher Education Ministry program that provides higher education opportunities to prisoners, among them 700 prisoners in four Israeli prisons: Negev, Rimon, Eshel, and Gilboa."[2]

In recent days, universities operating within PA territory have held diploma conferment ceremonies for graduates including those who are prisoners. These ceremonies, which are sponsored by PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas, are attended by PA officials and covered by the Palestinian press. Among the conferees were three Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including Majdi Al-Rimawi, of the PLO's PFLP faction. He is serving a life sentence plus 80 years for participating in planning and carrying out the 2001 assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi, and a series of other attacks.

The following are the details of the conferment ceremony, which, as noted, was sponsored by 'Abbas:

Abbas Sponsors Ceremonies Conferring Academic Degrees On Three Palestinians In Israeli Prisons, Including An Assassin Of Tourism Minister Ze'evi

On August 11, 2017, Al-Quds Open University held a diploma conferment ceremony sponsored by PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas. Also officiating at the ceremony was the secretary-general of the office of the PA presidency, Al-Tayeb Abd Al-Rahim, and the president of the university, Prof. Younis Amro. The first to receive their diplomas were three men who are still incarcerated: Majdi Al-Rimawi, sentenced to life plus 80 years, who was a member of the four-man squad that assassinated Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi in 2001 and was also convicted in connection to a string of other attacks; Abd Al-Karim Abd Al-Daim Fayyad Mahdhr, sentenced in 2002 to 17 years; and Muhammad Abd Al-Karim Suleiman.

Fathiya Al-Rimawi, Majdi's wife, attended the ceremony and accepted the diploma on her husband's behalf. She called the decision to confer the prisoners' diplomas first "an expression of respect for all the prisoners." Praising the efforts made by the university for her husband's education, she added: "We spoke with Majdi within the prison and he [said that he] was pleased with the administration of the university that had spared no effort to make the prisoners' education program succeed..."[3]

According to Mrs. Al-Rimawi, the Al-Quds Open University's program is welcomed by the prisoners and their families, because it allows them to "actualize their right to acquire an education and prepares them to join the job market and integrate into society after their release." She added that the esteem shown the three prisoners who completed their studies had "an impact on the morale of the families of the prisoners [and] gave them hope."[4] She also said that her husband would continue with his studies, first for a master's degree and then for a Ph.D.[5]

Fathiya Al-Rimawi accepts diploma on behalf of her husband Majdi Al-Rimawi, at Al-Quds Open University

Source: Al-Hayat Al- Jadida, PA, August 11, 2017. 

 

University President Prof. Younis Amro said that the university had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Prisoners Affairs Ministry and Education and Higher Education Ministry in the matter of providing higher education to prisoners, and added that the university faculties and administration were "proud and honored" to be able to participate in the diploma conferment for the three prisoners.[6] 

Amro added that Al-Quds Open University belongs to all the Palestinians, and that its priority is "to give an opportunity to learn and for hope to blossom to groups that find it difficult to attend regular universities – among them prisoners and released prisoners." He added that "the university, because of its national and social responsibility, has decided to grant a 30% tuition discount to [the prisoners] joining the prison [education] program."[7] Al-Quds Open University also provides support and supervision of studies within the prisons.

 

[2] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), August 11, 2017.

[3] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), August 11, 2017.

[4] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), August 11, 2017.

[5] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), August 11, 2017.

[6] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), August 11, 2017.

[7] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), August 11, 2017.