Ariel University
Ariel UniversityAriel University

The Knesset passed legislation Monday night placing Israeli colleges in Judea and Samaria under the direct authority of Israel’s higher education establishment, ending a long-standing distinction between schools in and outside of pre-1967 Israel.

The bill, known as the Ariel University Law, had been proposed by Jewish Home MK Shuli Mualem Refaeli and Chairman of the Knesset Education Committee MK Yaakov Margi (Shas).

While most Israeli institutes of higher learning are regulated and accredited by the Council for Higher Education of Israel, colleges beyond the Green Line – including Ariel University, Orot College in Elkana, and Herzog College in Gush Etzion – do not receive accreditation from the CHE, but are instead under the authority of a separate council established for Judea and Samaria.

Under the new law, the separate higher education council for Judea and Samaria will be abolished, and all Israeli colleges operating in Judea and Samaria will be placed under the supervision of the CHE.

Left-wing academics opposed the bill, with some 200 signing a petition calling on the government to reject the proposal.

Nevertheless, the Ariel University Law passed with a comfortable majority Monday night, 56 to 35. While the vote was largely on a partisan line, with coalition members backing the proposal and opposition parties voting against, Yesh Atid MKs crossed the aisle to vote in favor of the bill.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), who was instrumental in the bill’s passage, said the new law would place those colleges located beyond the Green Line on the same level as other Israeli schools.

“This means that Ariel [University] will no longer be a second class college,” said Bennett. “It’s a big step that will also enable us to open a medical school in Ariel [University].”