Nationalists won major recognition Tuesday with the Ariel higher education facility in Samaria (Shomron) being accepted as a full-fledged university.
The college has been battling for months for university status, and opponents have said their objections are based on financial and academic positions, while left-wing leaders have expressed horror that at the idea of a university existing in Samaria. The Obama administration will likely share their displeasure at the change in status.
On the other side of the political spectrum, Education Minister Gideon Saar, a senior Likud member, has been lobbying strongly for recognizing Ariel as a university.
The Council for Higher Education has fought bitterly against the move, which was approved Tuesday evening by the Judea and Samaria Council for Higher Education. The council members are required by law to be appointed by the IDF, which has legal authority over Judea and Samaria, and all of the members must be past or present members of the Council for Higher Education.
The facility in central Samaria, where Arabs as well as Jews from all of Israel study, has been called a “university center” since 2007.
Israel has seven other full-fledged universities, and officials of most of them fear that an eighth will cut into their own funding.