A group of internationally renowned Israeli authors and university presidents demanded Wednesday that Israel grant Palestinian students from the Gaza Strip free movement to superior universities in the West Bank. In a joint letter to Defense Minister Amir Peretz, they called on Israel to lift its sweeping ban on the travel of Palestinians between the West Bank and Gaza so students could pursue their education. "Blocking access to higher education for Palestinian students from Gaza who choose to study in the West Bank casts a dark shadow over Israel's image as a state which respects and supports the principle of academic freedom and the right to education," the letter states. The appeal was signed by authors Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman, and the presidents of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Ben-Gurion University, Haifa University and the Technion technology institute. The defense ministry said it hadn't received the letter and had no immediate comment. In the past, the ministry has said it would be time-consuming and impractical to check each Gazan wanting to apply.