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NIELSON WANTS SCHOOLS OPEN ON WEST BANK VICTIMS' RIGHTS TARGETED

Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, wants Congress to pressure Israel to stop making it a crime for Arab Palestinians in the occupied West Bank to obtain an education.

He introduced a resolution Tuesday that, if passed, would urge Israel to halt its closure of West Bank schools and colleges that has lasted nearly two full academic years.The resolution comes just before Congress will consider in coming weeks a $3 billion aid package to Israel.

In a speech on the House floor, Nielson said, "For nearly two full academic years, school-aged children in the occupied West Bank have been forbidden from attending school. Informal makeup classes and even the distribution of homework assignments have been prohibited for students of all ages.

"The school closures have created an entire generation of 8-year-old illiterates and have dealt a severe blow to the Palestinians who pride themselves in being the most educated group in the Arab world."

He said the schools were ordered closed as means to help quiet unrest in the West Bank, but ironically schools in the Gaza Strip - where violence has been more severe - have remained open.

Nielson said, "Under the terms of the fourth Geneva Convention, an occupying power has the responsibility to do everything possible to promote the care and education of children. This responsibility is clearly not being met."