British consul general to Israel, flee attacking Ramallah students

Sir Vincent Fean’s lecture at Birzeit University meets students’ fury. Envoy’s car mobbed upon leaving campus, no harm comes to consul or UK staff, only the car.

By Attila Somfalvi


British Consul General in Jerusalem Sir Vincent Fean was attacked Tuesday at the Birzeit University in Ramallah. He was unharmed.

Sir Vincent FeanSir Fean was scheduled to be the university’s guest lecturer on Tuesday, and planned to speak about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Britain’s policies in the Middle East.

His arrival on campus met with a large student protest. Dozens of Palestinian students heckled the British envoy, chanted and held banners protesting what they said was Britain’s support for the establishment of Israel and its policies.

Fean then met with the university’s president and the two decided it would be best to cancel the lecture.

The incident took place as the British envoy was attempting to leave the campus. Campus security guards shielded Fean from several dozen protesters as the diplomat, maintaining a slight smile, made his way to his car.

Some of the students banged and kicked the vehicle, which had been covered in demonstrators’ placards. The consul and other members of his party were unharmed and have returned to Jerusalem safety. The car sustained mild damage.

The British Embassy in Tel Aviv issued a statement saying that the incident was regrettable and adding that the consul general remains committed to forging a dialogue with the Palestinian students and hopes to visit the university again in the future.

“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,” said a spokesman for the British Consulate-General in east Jerusalem.

“Sadly, such a dialogue was not possible on this occasion.”

In a statement, Bir Zeit also voiced regret that Fean had not been able to speak.


Elior Levy contributed to this report.

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