Backtracking on past decision, Israel refuses to recognize Palestinian university’s degrees

Recognition of degrees from Al-Quds University would increase nursing graduates’ salaries, make them eligible for promotions and enable them enter certain job tenders.

Some 30 nursing graduates of Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem have filed a complaint with Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit over the Education Ministry’s refusal to recognize their degrees for salary and pay-grade purposes.

The state has informed the Supreme Court in the past that it does recognize degrees granted by the Palestinian academic institution’s medical school, based in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Dis.

Shlomo Lecker, the lawyer representing the graduates, said that the ministry department that deals with foreign academic degrees has refused to explain the reason for its failure to recognize the graduates for the past year-and-a-half. Degrees from other Palestinian institutions of higher education in the West Bank are recognized by the ministry.

Many of the graduates are Israeli residents, mostly from East Jerusalem, and work in Israel.

The appeal to Mendelblit caps seven years of discussions on the issue in both the Health Ministry and the Education Ministry.

In 2009, Lecker filed a court petition in court in the name of 15 doctors with degrees from Al-Quds, asking that the Health Ministry be required to explain why it did not recognize their degrees. In response, the Health Ministry said that after examining the matter with all relevant authorities, including the Education Ministry and the Council for Higher Education, it had been decided to recognize the medical degrees.

Subsequently, however, the Health Ministry announced that it had decided to “freeze the recognition for diplomatic reasons.”

At the end of 2014, following numerous court petitions and appeals to the Supreme Court, the state announced that all obstacles to recognition of the degrees had been removed.

The state’s agreement to recognize the degrees came after the Palestinian university declared, in the context of another case before the Supreme Court, a separation between the campus in Abu Dis and the part of the university located inside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. Shortly afterwards, the Health Ministry announced that the agreement concerning doctors’ degrees would apply to other medical professions, as well.

In light of the state’s announcement, which received the status of a court decision, the nursing students asked the Education Ministry to recognize their degrees. Such recognition would increase their salaries, make them eligible for job promotions and enable them enter certain job tenders.

The Education and Justice ministries did not comment on this report.