Ariel University Center
Ariel University Center Israel news photo: Rachel Hirshfeld

Supreme Court judge Elyakim Rubinstein rejected on Wednesday a petition by the heads of Israel's universities to issue an injunction against the recognition of the Ariel University Center as a full-fledged university.

Rubinstein accepted the state's position that the petition needs to be revised to reflect the fact that the Head of the IDF's Central Commandhas signed a document that grants formal approval to Ariel University.

"Since the IDF Commander in Judea and Samaria decided to recognize the Ariel University Center as a university, following a legal opinion by the Deputy Attorney General, and notice was given to the respondents today - there is room to amend the petition to reflect the new situation," wrote Rubinstein in his ruling.

"The petition will be corrected within a week. The respondents will submit their complete responses within ten days after that," he ruled, adding that "under the circumstances there is no place to order an injunction."

The petition filed by the heads of the universities was submitted to the Court before Major General Nitzan Alon, the Head of the IDF's Central Command, signed the document granting final approval to Ariel. The petition had called on the court to issue an interim injunction preventing Alon from signing the final document.

On Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barakconfirmed a government decision to officially recognize the academic center, after Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein upheld the Judea and Samaria Higher Education Council's (CHE-JS) decision to accredit the school.

The National Council for Higher Education has spoken out against recognizing Ariel, branded the decision to do so political and filed a petition against it to the Supreme Court.

In the motion filed by heads of other universities to the Supreme Court against the CHE-JS’ decision to recognize Ariel, they claim that that the CHE-JS exceeded the bounds of its authority when it decided, against the opinion of the Council of Higher Education's Planning and Finance Committee, to recognize Ariel as a University, and that its decision is riddled with legal faults. These are not academic in nature. 

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.