Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday confirmed a government decision to officially recognize the Ariel University Center of Samaria (Shomron) as a full-fledged university.
"Defense Minister Ehud Barak tonight ordered General Nitzan Alon, the military commander of the central region, to proclaim the university college of Ariel a university," the ministry said.
"This decision follows the decision in this regard by the government and the recommendations of the government's legal adviser published today on this subject," it added.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Monday upheld the Judea and Samaria Higher Education Council's decision to accredit the school, despite opposition from the National Council for Higher Education, which in September branded it political and filed a petition against it to the High Court of Justice.
Weinstein, who submitted his decision on Monday, said that there are "no obstacles" that could impede the accreditation, adding that the move to recognize the school was in accordance with the law.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed the change in status, saying that, "after decades, an additional university was born in Israel, which will strengthen higher education in the country."
The approval follows Netanyahu’s decision to approve thousands of new homes in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, sparking widespread international condemnation.
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who chairs the Council for Higher Education, lauded the development saying, “The Ariel University Center’s certification as the eighth university in Israel is a significant step for the entire education system.”