UK diplomat flees protests at West Bank university
Consul-General Sir Vincent Fean was at Birzeit University to discuss UK policy on Mideast, left abruptly after protests erupted.
British Consul-General Sir Vincent Fean in Jerusalem Photo: courtesy
The British Consul-General in Jerusalem, Sir Vincent Fean, was forced to leave
Birzeit University after angry Palestinian students protested against his
presence on campus.
Shouting, “Get out of Birzeit!”, dozens of students
attacked the top British diplomat’s car as it left the campus.
himself was not hurt. But minor damage was caused to one of the vehicles
in his convoy.
Fean arrived at the university to meet with its head,
Dr. Khalil al-Hindi, and deliver a lecture.
But when students
learned of his presence on campus, they staged a protest outside the offices of
the university administration, chanting nationalistic songs and anti-British
The consul-general was forced to cut short his visit and leave
the campus immediately.
Dr Ghassan Khatib, a senior university official,
denounced the attack on the British consul- general as
Khatib pointed out that there had been a “relative
improvement in Britain’s positions regarding the Palestinian
Khatib told the daily Al-Quds that the students could have
protested in a “more civilized manner” and engaged in a rational debate with the
British official. “They should have respected him and listened to his lecture as
he was our guest,” Khatib, a former spokesman for the Palestinian Authority
government in the West Bank, said. “Instead, they acted in a way that harms both
the students and the university.”
Kamal Assaf, chairman of the
university’s student council, expressed support for the students’ protest,
saying it was a “required duty.” Assaf said that “Britain’s colonialist policies
stand with Israel and ignore our cause,” and that students representing all
Palestinian factions participated in the protest.
In 2000, Palestinian
students at Birzeit University attacked visiting French prime minister Lionel
Jospin, hurling stones at him and his entourage.