Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) threatened to prevent the coalition from passing any future legislation if a bill that that would officially place Israeli colleges and universities in Judea and Samaria under Israel's Council for Higher Education is not advanced.
Since Ariel University, Orot College in Elkana, and Herzog College in the Etzion Bloc are located in Judea and Samaria, they are not officially considered institutes of higher learning under the aegis of Israel's Council for Higher Education,which regulates all post-high school studies in Israel. The institutes of higher learning located in Judea and Samaria are instead supervised by a separate authority, the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria.
According to a recent proposal, 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 are to be regulated by the same Council of Higher Education instead of the current situation. .
In response, over 150 far-left lecturers from across Israel signed a petition calling on Israel not to enable Ariel University to join the Council for Higher Education, angering many Israelis who contended that these professors were acting like the BDS movement. "Ariel University is situated in an area that has a sharp separation between Palestinian residents and the settler community," read the letter, although the university has a significant number of Arab students..
Matan Peleg, who heads the Im Tirtzu NGO, blasted the letter as "BDS from within", fuming that "these so-called enlightened academics have joined the ranks of the most vile anti-Israel advocates in the world who use boycotts as a means to destroy the Jewish state."
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 complain about the bureaucratic hurdles they need to overcome 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 granted overseas.
Ariel University is planning to open a medical school, an action which necessitates its accreditation by the Council of Higher Education. The law's advancement is being stymied by Likud MK Yoav Kish who has tied it together with a bill on child custody he is pushing, but which is opposed by Mualem-Refaeli.