U.S. Restores Fulbright Scholarships to Gaza Students

Posted on June 2, 2008

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GAZA CITY (CNN) — The U.S. has reversed its decision to take Fulbright scholarships away from seven Gaza-based students, saying it is working with Israel to let them leave the Palestinian territory to study at American universities.

Student Hadeel Abukwaik, 23, says she hopes to have an exit visa to leave Gaza for the U.S. by August.

The U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem broke the news to the students by e-mail Sunday after a consulate official said last week the U.S. government was rescinding the scholarships because of travel restrictions that Israel has imposed on the Hamas-ruled zone.

One of the students, Hadeel Abukwaik, 23, said she “laughed like crazy” from sheer joy when she received the e-mail.

“I was really hoping for this, but I didn’t want to want it too much,” the software engineering student said by phone Monday. “I didn’t want to be disappointed again.

“This is really good news.”

The United States reversed its decision late last week after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice heard about the cancellation of the scholarships and expressed her outrage, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Monday.

Rice vowed to investigate, noting that “if you cannot engage young people and give them complete horizon to their expectations and to their dreams, then I don’t know that there would be any future for Palestine.”

Please click here to read the remainder of the article from CNN.

Note from Rafik Beekun:

The Gaza students should never have gone through such trauma. All the US has to do to get Israel to approve their visas is to make any aid to Israel conditional.

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