Roger Heacock first started teaching at Birzeit University, a Palestinian institution in the occupied West Bank, in 1985. An American citizen, Heacock built a career and raised three children there. For many years he came and went largely without incident, renewing his visa every three months.
But over the past couple of years, Palestinian universities and human rights groups say, it's become increasingly difficult for foreigners like Heacock who work in the West Bank to get permission from Israel, which controls access to the Palestinian territories, to renew their visas, or to come there to teach in the first place.
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The Middle East Studies Association's Committee on Academic Freedom has also weighed in with a July 15 letter echoing the demands of Birzeit and the two legal and human rights groups.
The Israeli Embassy in Washington did not comment over several days.
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