The Palestinian Authority (PA) ministry for prisoners affairs signed an agreement Monday with Al-Umma Open University, launching a new jointly run study program for Arab terrorists jailed in Israel.
Baha al-Madhoun, the PA's minister of prisoners affairs, said at the signing that the study program will give an advantage to security prisoners who will be able to complete bachelor's degrees in four fields of study. He called the program a message of "defiance."
According to al-Madhoun, having jailed terrorists obtain higher education is an important achievement in turning Israeli prisons into "universities" producing the next generation of leaders and academics.
The figures published in the Hamas paper Palestine indicate that the PA's ministry of prisoners affairs together with Al-Aqsa University have helped dozens of prisoners complete academic degrees from jail since 2008.
Israel's Prison Service had paid for the terrorists to receive a free college education from Israeli universities up until June 2011, when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced in response to the PA's halting of diplomatic negotiations that the program would be stopped.
In late 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the decision, stating that the right to free university education does not apply to those convicted of terrorist offenses. At the same time, the judges called on prison authorities to be "considerate" regarding prisoners who had already started academic programs.
In December 2013, the state released a document noting the most popular course among jailed terrorists in 2011 was "Genocide."