Ariel University Center
Ariel University Center Ariel University Center

Nationalists welcomed on Tuesday evening the decision to accept the Ariel University Center in Samaria (Shomron) as a full-fledged university.

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who has expressed his unequivocal support of the education center’s recognition as a university, praised the Judea and Samaria Council for Higher Education for its decision.

“The Judea and Samaria CHE decided not to surrender to the pressure and intimidation and made a correct, businesslike and professional decision based on a report by the academic review committee,” said Sa’ar. “The decision is important for the Ariel University Center and also serves the interests of Israel's higher education system as a whole.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman on Tuesday evening, and congratulated him on the recognition of the Ariel University Center of Samaria. “This is a festive day for Ariel and for higher education in Israel,” the Prime Minister said.

MK Zevulun Orlev (The Jewish Home) also welcomed the decision, saying, “This is an achievement for justice and academic honesty which knew how to prefer the high academic level over the financial accounts of the closed guild of the leaders of other universities.”

Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Lieberman said the decision “is an important step in both strengthening the academia and strengthening Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria and also constitutes a major contribution to students, who will benefit from an additional worthy institution.”

He added, “This is also another great achievement for Yisrael Beytenu, which set the recognition of a university in Ariel as one of the central conditions for the establishment of the coalition, and today we proved once more that our word means something.”

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) welcomed the decision, saying, “This is an excellent academic institution and worthy of its new title. Its future is to be a leading research university, and the knowledge that comes forth from it will earn national and international recognition.”

He criticized the Israeli left for objecting to the change in status. “The Israel left was not ashamed to fight against academic freedom and excellence in research, but the convoy of settlement continues to move, and from this evening, it is crowned with a university.”

Jewish Home party candidate Naftali Bennett said the Likud party is facing “an unprecedented opportunity to return to power.”

“For the first time, it has been proven that the decisions in Israel are being made by the elected leaders, not by far-left petitions in the media,” Bennett said. “This is a holiday for those who love settlement in the land of Israel.”

At the same time, MK Einat Wilf (Independence) expressed disapproval over the decision, saying, “I am pained at the decision to recognize Ariel University Center as a university. If the Finance Minister and the Education Ministry have tens of millions of extra shekels for higher education, they should have been used to assist the existing universities, which are recovering from a decade of tough budget cuts.”