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Palestinian students force UK consul out of West Bank campus

Published: Updated:

Scores of Palestinian students forced the British consul general to make a hasty departure from a West Bank university campus on Tuesday, witnesses and an AFP correspondent said.

Consul General Sir Vincent Fean had travelled to Bir Zeit University near Ramallah to deliver a lecture on Britain's policy in the region and the prospects for peace but was turned away by a noisy demonstration.

Video footage showed protesters banging on his car and shouting: “Get out of Bir Zeit!”

Although Fean was hurriedly escorted back to his car then whisked away unharmed by his security detail, the protesters managed to break the car's wing mirror and taped pictures of a Palestinian prisoner on long-term hunger strike onto the window, the correspondent said.

The protesters held up Palestinian flags and banners in English and Arabic, one of which read: “I am a refugee because of Balfour” in reference to Britain's publication in 1917 of the Balfour Declaration calling for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

The consulate confirmed the incident saying Fean had been due to give a lecture on Britain's policies in the Middle East.

“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,” a statement said.

“Sadly, such a dialogue was not possible on this occasion,” it said, without giving details.

Student protesters at Bir Zeit pulled off a similar stunt in February 2000 when they booed and threw stones at then visiting French prime minister Lionel Jospin demanding he leave the university in protest over controversial remarks he made about Lebanon.