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.

fean370 (photo credit: courtesy)
(photo credit: 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.
Fean 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 slogans.
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 “unjustified.”
Khatib pointed out that there had been a “relative improvement in Britain’s positions regarding the Palestinian cause.”
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.