Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday asserted his support for upgrading to university status the Ariel University Center of Samaria in the West Bank.
Netanyahu was speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. "Ariel is an integral part of Israel and will remain as such in any future agreement," he said.
"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.
The government on Sunday is expected to endorse the upgrade and the appointment of
Shai Nitzan to the post of deputy attorney-general for special
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar was due to bring forward the
Ariel proposal, which calls 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
Given that the matter is now a legal issue, a decision by the
government would be non-binding and would not in and of itself change the
However, the government is expected to issue a
binding decision on a request by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman with regard to
Right-wing politicians oppose the appointment, saying Nitzan
acted against settlers when he headed the ministry’s criminal law division for
Judea and Samaria.
The head of Habayit Hayehudi, Science and Technology
Minister Daniel Herschkowitz, said Saturday night that he would vote against the
“There is a crisis of trust between the state attorney’s
office and the settlers,” Herschkowitz said. “Appointing Nitzan to deal with
sensitive matters will only deepen this crisis.”
MK Uri Ariel (National
Union) has called on cabinet ministers to oppose the appointment. MK Tzipi
Hotovely (Likud) is collecting signatures to bring the issue of Nitzan’s
appointment to the Knesset, warning that it would introduce a “Trojan horse”
into the attorney-general’s office and strengthen the imposition of political
stances on the Likud government.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.