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US State Department Says Four Palestinian Students Allowed to Apply for US Visas


The U.S. State Department says Israel has allowed four Palestinians who were awarded prestigious U.S. scholarships to leave the Gaza Strip to apply for U.S. student visas.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack confirmed that four of the seven students granted Fulbright fellowships left Gaza and traveled to Jerusalem Wednesday to submit their visa applications. He said the U.S. is working with Israeli authorities on exit permits for the three remaining students.

Last week, U.S. officials announced they had withdrawn the scholarship grants because the seven Gaza-based students could not get exit visas from the Israeli government. But the State Department has since reinstated the awards.

Named for the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, the grants are the flagship U.S. government educational exchange program and are used to promote a better understanding of U.S. values abroad.

Earlier this week, Israel's Supreme Court gave the government two weeks to review a policy that prevents Palestinian students in the Gaza Strip from studying abroad.

Israel has sealed off Gaza in an effort to isolate Hamas, the militant group that took control of the territory last year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.