'Ariel University is being held hostage'

Ariel University Chancellor urges Likud and Jewish Home to resolve standoff between them and approve the Ariel University Law.

Benny Tocker ,

Kisch and Netanyahu
Kisch and Netanyahu
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Yigal Cohen-Orgad, Chancellor of Ariel University, on Sunday urged the Likud and the Jewish Home parties to settle the dispute between them and to approve the Ariel University Law.

The law, proposed by Jewish Home, would normalize the status of all Israeli institutions of higher learning located in Judea and Samaria. At present, schools like Ariel University, Orot College in Elkana, and Herzog College in Gush Etzion are not under the authority of Israel’s Council for Higher Education, and are instead administered by a separate Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria.

However, the Likud has announced that it will oppose the bill in retaliation for Jewish Home MK Shuli Mualem's decision to block a bill by Likud MK Yoav Kisch that would lower the Tender Years Clause to two years of age.

Under Israel's present Tender Years Clause, in case of divorce, children stay with the mother until the youngest is at least six years old, at which point the father can petition for shared custody.

On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation cancelled its weekly meeting for the second consecutive week amid the escalating row between the Likud and Jewish Home.

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Orgad warned on Sunday that every passing day places the Ariel University’s ability to open its new Faculty of Medicine under serious doubt. "This is a totally crazy situation. After all, there is no argument between the Likud and the Jewish Home regarding the need to apply the Council for Higher Education Law to include institutions of higher learning in Judea and Samaria, including of course Ariel University,” he said.

"There is an argument here between two Knesset members, MK Mualem of Jewish Home and MK Kisch of the Likud, both arguing over the content of the Tender Years Law, with no connection to the issue of the university. And because of their argument, MK Yoav Kisch holds hostage the bill that has already passed its preliminary reading - the Ariel University Law, which is supposed to be prepared for its second and third readings," continued Orgad, a former Finance Minister between 1983 and 1984.

He urged the two sides "to disconnect these two great worlds from one another and to solve each problem in its own right. I have no problem either with the Likud or with Minister Bennett, who has been pushing tirelessly the issue of advancing this law in recent months, but we must understand why it is urgent.”

"The passing of the law that applies the jurisdiction of the Council for Higher Education in Israel to Ariel University is a necessary condition for the approval of the plan to open the medical studies faculty in Ariel. The preparations are advancing, the professional examinations are being carried out, but without solving the problem of applying the Council for Higher Education Law, we will not be able to solve the problem of opening the medical school,” stressed Orgad.

"I am very concerned. Every day that passes is simply dangerous. This issue must not be delayed,” he concluded.