Univ. Chair Kaveh Says Semester Still Valid After Strike Deal

Student leaders accept PMO compromise deal in late night meeting, classes to resume Thursday.

Professor Moshe Kaveh, chairman of the Committee of University Heads said Tuesday the current semester will not be cancelled, after the National Union of Israeli Students' vote early Tuesday to end the student strike that lasted for 41 days and crippled the higher education system.

Kaveh praised the NUI decision, and said the semester will in fact be lengthened by two weeks or a month in accordance with agreements with the various educational institutions. He promised to work according to the principle of "maximum aid for students with minimum damage to academia."

Classes will start at many colleges and universities Thursday, and most others by Sunday.

In a meeting that lasted until past midnight at a private law college in Kiryat Ono college, 23 student union leaders voted in favor of the Prime Minister's Office compromise deal and 17 voted against.

Dozens of students demonstrated outside the college, demanding the voting be open and transparent. The student union employed security guards who prevented about 200 demonstrators from entering the site and taking part in proceedings. Due to these measures, after the vote some students said it was illegitimate.

As the student union leaders left the vote protesters outside greeted them with cries of disapproval. NUI chair Itai Sonschein escaped by a side exit. The protesters called on the heads of the NUI to carry out a public discussion and an open vote. They said the government deal did not achieve the aims of their struggle against tuition fees.

Opponents of the deal said it would have been better to cease the strike without signing it. They said during the struggle the whole student body was meant to have taken part in an internet vote, or at least that separate votes should been taken at the student councils of academic institutions. This did not always happen, the demonstrators said, adding that there were occasions when the NUI representatives ignored the councils' rulings when there were votes.

Amnon Halel, from the Kibbutzim College of Education, and a member of the strike staff, demonstrated outside the meeting and fumed at the union heads: "You are preventing democracy, stopping students from being a part of the discussion. Whatever you decide upon in this closed room will bind yourselves only. We will continue the struggle!"

According to a poll taken by the NUIS, 91 percent of students believe the struggle against is just. Another 31 percent also believe the agreement with the government achieves the goals of the struggle only to a "slight extent."

Of the respondents, 38 percent said that the deal achieves their goals to a "certain extent," while 17 percent said it achieves them to a "great extent." Some 450 students were surveyed in the poll.