The Israeli cabinet on Sunday issued a non-binding statement favoring the upgrade of Ariel University Center of Samaria in the West Bank to university status.

Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asserted his support for the upgrade saying that Ariel is "an integral part of Israel and will remain as such in any future agreement."

"The establishment of the university serves to strengthen higher education in Israel. Seven universities is not enough. It is important to have another university, and it is important that this will be Ariel," the prime minister added.

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar brought forward the Ariel proposal, calling for all necessary steps to be taken to execute the July decision by the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria for the upgrade, saying it is of “national importance.”

The upgrade would bring the number of the country’s accredited universities to eight. Sa’ar said an eighth university “would enhance Israel’s education system.”

There is a petition against the upgrade pending before the High Court of Justice.

Given that the matter is now a legal issue, a decision by the government is non-binding and will not in and of itself change the institution’s status.

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