MK Danny Danon (Likud) on Friday called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to intervene and complete the process of recognizing the Ariel University Center in the Shomron as a full-fledged university.
Danon’s call came following reports that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has been delaying the announcement of Ariel’s recognition as a university for over three weeks. The Judea and Samaria Council for Higher Education (CHE-JS) has already decided to recognize Ariel as a university, but final approval needs to come from the IDF, which has legal authority over Judea and Samaria.
“This delay is unacceptable,” said Danon, who noted that all the echelons have already decided that Ariel will become a university. “All that is now required is the signature of the head of Central Command, but the Defense Minister is delaying the signing because of pressure by leftist organizations.
“It will not help them,” he stressed. “I have already contacted the Prime Minister and asked him not to let the Defense Minister dictate the policies of the left. All that is required is a technical signature, it has already been approved by CHE-JS and is a matter of days.”
Danon added that “there is no doubt that the delay now is a political delay and I call on the Prime Minister to ensure that Ariel will be a university already in the next academic year.”
Danon called on Barak to sign or resign. “The Minister of Defense is not a Prime Minister and we will make sure that Ariel becomes a university. If the Minister of Defense cannot sign, then he should leave this government.”
Earlier this week, the Council of Presidents of Israeli Universities tried to prevent Ariel from becoming a full-fledged university.
The Council, headed by Professor Rivka Carmi, sent a letter to the head of IDF Central Command, Nitzan Alon, asking him not to approve the center’s recognition as a university.
In the letter, the Council members wrote Alon, “This decision of the CHE-JS was fundamentally flawed - it was made without authority, without a prior and through examination procedure of the scientific needs of Israel and the criteria required for the requested recognition, while ignoring relevant considerations, and contrary to the professional position of the Committee for Planning and Budgeting in the Council for Higher Education, which mentioned the broad planning and budgetary needs of the education and research system in Israel.”
The members of the Council claimed in the letter that CHE-JS’ decision to recognize Ariel as a university oversteps its boundary and “ignores the most preliminary question: Is it necessary and possible to establish another research university in Israel? The authority to answer this question is reserved exclusively for the CHE in Israel and for the Committee for Planning and Budgeting. CHE-JS does not have authority to make decisions which have wide implications for Israel's higher education system. Even if it was found that there is room for another university, the procedure had to be done equitably, and should have been open to a variety of institutions.”
The recognition of Ariel as a university was seen as a victory for nationalists. 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.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)