Ariel University Center
Ariel University Center Ariel University Center

Nationalists sharply criticized Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday, after he 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, but Barak, who has to sign the decision to make it official, said that it would be appropriate to wait for the Court to rule on a motion filed by the heads of other universities against the CHE-JS’ decision. The universities have said that they are afraid that the decision will reduce their funding.

Bar Ilan University has retracted its signature on the motion.

“The Defense Minister failing to sign the change of status of the Ariel University Center is a blatant violation of the coalition agreements he and his party are signed to,” said MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beytenu).

“The Minister of Defense exercises wrongful force using his authority, the IDF and Central Command to promote political views,” accused Miller, adding, “Barak is mocking the Prime Minister, the CHE and thousands of students.”

Miller noted that “[Barak's] party is wobbling around the electoral threshold and we will not let this wobbling affect the future of higher education.” It is widely thought that Barak, whose party needs to garner the left's support from Labor and Meretz, acts in order to increase that support.

MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) also criticized Barak’s recommendation to Netanyahu, saying it "blatantly exceeds the authority given to him.”

“As long as there is no security problem, Barak has no considerations to make, and using his considerations for political gain and to sabotage any decision made by competent authorities is unacceptable and anti-democratic,” said Hotovely. “Barak should go back to dealing with defense issues and leave higher education alone.”