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PA funds university study program for imprisoned terrorists

Headline: "Al-Quds Open University breaks through the fences and provides education to the prisoners behind bars"
      "Al-Quds Open University recently opened a prisoners' study program within the [Israeli] prisons, and the number of prisoners who joined it has reached 484 prisoners within three months. Likewise, the forecast is that this number will rise to 600 prisoners by the end of the current year [2017], with another prison joining the program...
Prisoner Maslama Thabet (i.e., terrorist, participated in murder of 2), head of the Al-Quds Open University study program committee in the Rimon Prison, said: 'Al-Quds Open University's prisoners' study program has created an academic awakening within the prison and has proven to the Palestinian prisoners that they, like the rest of the members of the Palestinian people, can turn their tragedy into a reality full of hope and success.' ...
Al-Quds Open University President Professor Younes Amr said to The [Al-Quds Open] University Message (i.e., the university paper) that Al-Quds Open University did not hesitate to sign the memorandum of understanding with the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs and the [PA] Ministry of Education and Higher Education, through which the university created a special study program for the prisoners in the prisons according to academic conditions that ensure the transparency of the study process and its results.
Amr said: 'In accordance with this memorandum, which was signed in 2014, the university created three study programs in the Ktzi'ot, Rimon, and Gilboa Prisons, in which 484 students are studying in three main departments: Arabic Language, Islamic Education, and Social Work.' ...
It should be noted that approximately 260 students are currently studying as part of the program at the Ktzi'ot Prison, 163 at the Rimon Prison, and 61 at the Gilboa Prison. This is while the university is currently examining a file that was submitted on behalf of the Eshel Prison, and if it is agreed on, the number of students will reach approximately 600 at the end of the current year...
Director-General of the study program in the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs Muhammad Al-Batta... noted that this program, which the commission is carrying out in partnership with Al-Quds Open University, is not dependent on the whims of the Israeli Prison Service and its steps, but rather is being carried out in direct contact with the academic supervisory committees within the prisons through an lawyer on behalf of the Prisoners' Club (i.e., organization funded by the PA). He emphasized that the program is meriting great confidence from the commission and is characterized by precision and transparency. He also emphasized that the supervisory committees within the prisons, the Commission of Prisoners' Affairs, and Al-Quds Open University are working diligently to provide all of the means for the program's success, as it is an extraordinary program that polishes the knowledge of the prisoners and their culture and trains them for professional life.
Regarding the role of the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs in the program, Al-Batta said: 'Our role is central, as we constitute a connecting link between the university and the prisoners, because the central guarantee for the success of this program is the coordination with the supervisory committees.' He explained that the study course materials are being brought in and the grades are being brought out [to be recorded at the university] with the aid of the lawyers. He added regarding this: 'This program is being carried out far from the Israeli Prison Service, for it has no connection with it as the books are being brought in by the lawyers, and this is also how the grades are being transferred.'
Al-Batta noted that the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs is the one funding this program through the payment of tuition. He also thanked the Al-Quds Open University administration for providing special discounts for the prisoners. On everything regarding the future plans for developing the program, Al-Batta said: 'We hope that the conditions in all of the prisons will allow this, so that we will be able to open similar programs in them.' ...
Dean of Student Affairs Professor Muhammad Shahin... noted that there are conditions for implementing this program that are dependent on the nature of the prison in which it is possible to carry out the program, and particularly on all that is related to the nature of the arrest.
Included among these important conditions are the ability to bring the study course materials into the prison and the presence of at least five prisoners with a master's or doctoral degree who will serve as the program's supervisory committee within the prison. This committee is the one that is responsible before the university, the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs, and the [PA] Ministry of Education and Higher Education for all of the processes, the activities, and the supervision of the study process with all of its components, including examinations, transferring the grades to the university, and signing the grade lists...
Regarding the obstacles that stand in the program's way, Professor Shahin said: 'Because this program is being carried out within the prisons, there are lots of obstacles, and all of them relate to the prison administrations and the fact that they are not cooperating with the program, in contrast to the Hebrew (sic., Israeli) Open University program, with which they are cooperating with full ease.'
He continued: 'This program is being carried out through direct contact between the university and the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs and the academic supervisory committees in the prisons, and we have no connection with the [Israeli] prison administrations. If the program was carried out with greater facilitation by the prison administrations, it would strengthen it.' ...
He also noted that the transfer of prisoners [from one prison to another] constitutes a serious problem, particularly when a prisoner transfers from a prison in which there is a program like this to one where there is none. In this case, the studies are frozen until it is possible for him to transfer to a prison that provides this program."
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Maslama Thabet - Palestinian terrorist who participated in the kidnapping and murder of Etgar Zeituni and Motti Dayan in Tulkarem on Jan. 23, 2001, as well as additional terrorist activities. Thabet is serving a 25 year sentence.

Prisoners in general and security prisoners in particular, are only allowed to conduct specific activities permitted to them by Israeli law and the rules of the Israeli Prison Service. In accordance with these, since 2011, security prisoners are no longer permitted to participate in degree courses. PMW has notified the IPS that hundreds of Palestinian terrorist prisoners continue to study for academic degrees in spite of the ban.

Published in the December 2016 issue of The Al-Quds Open University Message, the university's newspaper. 

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