Just three days after masked protesters marched through Al-Quds University’s East Jerusalem campus in support of Hamas, the institution announced that university president Sari Nusseibeh would be resigning from his post.
A statement on the Palestinian university’s website posted Wednesday said Nusseibeh, 65, had reached retirement age and would resign at the conclusion of the current academic year, after nearly 20 years as the institution’s president. The decision was announced following a meeting of the university’s board of trustees.
Imad Abu Kishek, head of the university’s Political Science Department, was announced as Nusseibeh’s successor. The university’s statement noted that Nusseibeh would be staying on as a faculty member in the university’s Philosophy Department.
On Sunday, supporters of Hamas at the East Jerusalem university staged a paramilitary show of force on the school’s campus, four months after a similar rally organized by terror group Islamic Jihad led to academic sanctions against the school.
The Islamic Bloc of Al-Quds University, a student group associated with the Hamas terror group, paraded on campus with masked faces, carrying green banners and cardboard replicas of missiles launched by Islamist terrorists from Gaza into Israel.
A similar protest four months earlier by a campus branch of Islamic Jihad had students marching in black military gear with fake automatic weapons, waving flags and offering Nazi-style salutes. Banners with images of Palestinian suicide bombers decorated the campus’s main square.
Nusseibeh condemned such rallies as “unacceptable” and set up an investigation into the event, he told The Times of Israel at the time. After the rally, Brandeis University cut off its partnership with Al-Quds, but has been considering reinstating it.
The university indicated that the announcement of the resignation was not tied to the Islamist rally.
Daniel Terris, Brandeis University’s Director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, told student newspaper The Justice that the resignation “has been planned for a long time.”
Terris had visited the university in November and had recommended reinstating the partnership.
Tom Gross, an independent Middle East journalist and commentator who first reported this week’s rally on his website, said Nusseibeh, seen as a moderate, should stay on at the university to fight forces of extremism.
“Mr. Nusseibeh should stay and show that he is the moderate that he purports to be, by engendering a spirit of tolerance and moderation among students on campus, rather than allowing military-style parades that encourage violence, and that other students, who simply want to study, find intimidating,” said Gross on Thursday. “Were he do to this, President Nusseibeh could play a significant role in helping create a better future for Palestinians and Israelis alike.”
Sunday’s rally, which took place outside the Humanities Faculty in the university’s Abu Dis campus, was titled “Alerting the loyal – on the path of the great leaders,” according to the group’s Facebook page. The event was meant to commemorate Hamas leaders Ahmed Yassin, Abdul Aziz Rantisi and Ibrahim Maqadmeh, all killed by Israel.
After the Islamic Jihad rally in November, Nusseibeh issued a statement claiming that “Jewish extremists” were using the demonstration to “capitalize on events in ways that misrepresent the university as promoting inhumane, anti-Semitic, fascist, and Nazi ideologies.”
“Without these ideologies,” he said “there would not have been the massacre of the Jewish people in Europe; without the massacre, there would not have been the enduring Palestinian catastrophe.”
Brandeis dubbed Nusseibeh’s comments “inflammatory.”
Al-Quds University could not be reached for comment on the timing of Nusseibeh’s resignation.