Ariel College 311.
(photo credit: Ariel University Center Website)
The heads of Israel's universities on Monday petitioned the High Court of Justice to overturn a decision granting Ariel University Center (AUC) official university status.
The petition was filed against a number of organizations, including The Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria, the IDF OC Central Command, the Israeli government, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
The AUC remains without official university status, as progress toward realizing the Council's decision has been hindered by Defense Minister Ehud Barak
. Since Ariel is in the West Bank, which is under the IDF’s authority, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon must sign the declaration, and may only do so after receiving instructions from Barak.
In the petition, the university heads argued that the decision to grant the AUC university status was ridden with defects that would affect the entire system of higher education, both academically and in terms of budget allocation. "The Council's decision was seriously flawed in its legality and its logic... the decision was sewn together over the course of three years," the petition stated.
In response, Ariel University Center (AUC) released a statement which described as "regretful" the actions of Israeli university heads, and accused "leaders of the cartel of universities of continuing to undermine authorized institutions in Israel."
MK Danny Danon (Likud) also slammed the petition, calling it "a cheap politicization of the academic world."
"It seems the heads of universities need a lesson in civics," Danon said. "The university heads, who hold extreme leftist opinions, are trying co-opt authority through the courts."
In 2010, Barak approved upgrading Ariel’s status from college to university center.
Right-wing MKs have slammed Barak for delaying his decision, accusing him of having ulterior motives and promoting his own political agenda.
Israel’s largest public college, AUC was founded in 1982 as a branch of Bar-Ilan University, but became independent in 2004 when it began to seek university status.
AUC has around 13,000 students, 5 percent of whom are Arabs.
The vast majority of students – 85% – live within the Green Line.Joanna Parasczcuk contributed to this report