Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday advised Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to wait for a Supreme Court ruling on the issue of the recognition of the Ariel University Center as a full-fledged university.
The Council of Higher Education for Judea and Samaria (CHE-JS) has already decided to recognize Ariel as a university, and Barak now has to sign the decision to make it official, since the IDF is the body which has legal authority over Judea and Samaria.
However, the heads of the universities have filed a motion against the CHE-JS’ decision with the Supreme Court. The motion demands that the decision be struck down and claims that the CHE-JS exceeded the bounds of its authority when it decided, against the opinion of the Council of Higher Education's Planning and Finance Committee (CHE-PFC), to recognize Ariel as a University.
Bar Ilan University has retracted its signature from the motion, which is based on the universities' unwillingness to share finances with a new entity and not on academic grounds.
Barak has now advised Netanyahu to wait until the judges give a ruling on the motion and then take the matter to be decided by the government.
Barak said last week that he had not yet made a decision on whether to order the head of the IDF’s Central Command to ratify the decision on recognizing Ariel as a university.
He said that before he makes a decision he will meet with Ariel's Chairman of the Board, Yigal Cohen-Orgad, with Prof. Yehuda Danon, who serves as president of the center, with Prof. Amos Altshuler who heads the CHE-JS and with Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg who chairs the CHE-PFC.
Barak said that since he is the one who has to make the final decision, he must investigate the matter.
“I'm not a rubber stamp, and ultimately everyone should first think and then decide, not the opposite,” he said.
Last month, MK Danny Danon (Likud) called on Netanyahu to intervene and complete the process of recognizing Ariel as a full-fledged university.
Danon criticized Barak for delaying the process and called on him to sign or resign.
“The Minister of Defense is not a Prime Minister and we will make sure that Ariel becomes a university,” he said. “If the Minister of Defense cannot sign, then he should leave this government.”