The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved a bill on Sunday that would officially place Israeli colleges and universities in Judea and Samaria under Israeli law.
As Ariel University, Orot College in Elkana, and Herzog College in the Eztion Bloc are located in Judea and Samaria, they are not officially considered institutes of higher learning under Israel's Council for Higher Education, which regulates all post-high school studies in Israel. The institutes of higher learning that are located in Judea and Samaria are instead run by a separate group, the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria.
According to the proposal, which was initiated by MK Shuli Mualem Refaeli (Jewish Home) and Chairman of the Knesset Education Committee MK Yaakov Margi (Shas), all institutions of higher education in Judea and Samaria will be regulated by the Israeli Institute of Higher Education instead.
The bill will now advance to the Knesset where it needs to pass three readings in order to become law. A senior political figure told Haaretz however that a vote on the bill will likely be postponed until next week as part of an effort to de-escalate tensions with the Palestinian Authority after President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Students learning in Ariel University in Samaria welcomed the decision, calling the situation that currently exists intolerable. "Finally, the government says that I am not different from any other student in the country," said Lior Saadi, who is getting his B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies.
The Judea and Samaria Institute of Higher Learning was first created in the 1990's as a way to get around bureaucratic problems delaying the accreditation of Ariel University. Students studying at Judea and Samaria's three colleges often complained about the bureaucratic hurdles they needed to jump through in order to advance their studies, such as having to have a Ph.D. from Ariel University registered with the Education Ministry as if it was received overseas.
"I welcome the decision of the Ministerial Committee and call on Knesset members who support strengthening the quality of Israeli academia to support this law," said Mualem.