Its good to know that with all of Ehud Olmert’s corruption troubles and shaky political future, his government still has the time and energy for the petty cruelties of the occupation. As the New York Times reports today:

The American State Department has withdrawn all Fulbright grants to Palestinian students in Gaza hoping to pursue advanced degrees at American institutions this fall because Israel has not granted them permission to leave.

The policy has, however, managed to piss off the center left

“This policy is not in keeping with international standards or with the moral standards of Jews, who have been subjected to the deprivation of higher education in the past. Even in war, there are rules.” Rabbi Melchior is from the Meimad Party, allied with Labor.

and the right

“We correctly complain that the Palestinian Authority is not building civil society, but when we don’t help build civil society this plays into the hands of Hamas,” said Natan Sharansky, a former government official.

And it seems that the Bush administration has thrown in its own perfected brand of incompetence.

The State Department and American officials in Israel refused to discuss the matter. But the failure to persuade the Israelis [to allow the Gazan students to leave] may have stemmed from longstanding tensions between the consulate in Jerusalem, which handles Palestinian affairs, and the embassy in Tel Aviv, which manages relations with the Israeli government.

Full story here.