British Consul-General Forced to Flee

YERUSHALAYIM -

British Consul-General Sir Vincent Fean was forced to flee Birzeit University near the Palestinian city of Ramallah on Tuesday, after unruly student protests erupted, according to media reports.

The diplomat cut short his visit as a protest was staged by students outside the offices of the university administration. They sang Palestinian nationalistic songs and chanted anti-British slogans.

Students shouting, “Get out of Birzeit!” attacked Fean’s car as it departed the campus.

Fean had come to the university to discuss Britain’s foreign policy in the Middle East, and to meet with Birzeit President Dr Khalil al-Hindi.

A spokesman for the Consulate-General told The Jerusalem Post that no members of the British diplomatic delegation were injured in the incident, but damage was caused to the vehicle.

“Sir Vincent had hoped to underline Britain’s deep commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state, and the urgency of progress on the peace process in 2013,” the Consulate-General said, adding, “Sadly, such a dialogue was not possible on this occasion.”

Dr. Ghassan Khatib, a senior Birzeit University official, said the attack on Fean was “unjustified,” and that there has 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.

But Kamal Assaf, chairman of the student council at Birzeit University, defended the  students’ behavior as a “required duty,” because, as he put it, “Britain’s colonialist policies stand with Israel and ignore our cause.”