(photo credit: Students at the Ariel University Center in Samaria)
The Council of Presidents of Israeli Universities filed a motion to the High
Court of Justice on Tuesday against the upgrade of Ariel University Center to
university status that was announced a day earlier.
The motion, which
asks the court to issue an injunction ordering the commander of IDF forces in
Judea and Samaria, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, not to recognize
the university, reiterates a petition that was filed to the court on the subject
back in August. The president of Bar-Ilan University has since withdrawn his
Tuesday’s motion, signed by the heads of the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, the Technion-Israel Institute of
Technology, the Weizmann Institute of Science, Ben-Gurion University of the
Negev, the University of Haifa and the Open University, argues against the
substance of decision, and also its timing.
“These are election days and
any decision on this sensitive matter at this time can be interpreted as a
There is no logic in acting so urgently,” the document
Among other arguments, the members of the council wrote that they
worry that Ariel’s new status will lead to budget cuts for the other
universities in the country.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz condemned
the motion submitted to the court on Tuesday and called the heads of the
institutions to reconsider their position.
“After I added a billion
shekels in a multi-year program to strengthen universities and colleges in
Israel, it’s quite outrageous to receive complaints about the budgetary damage
caused by Ariel University,” Steinitz said.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava
Gal-On said on Monday that the decision to grant university status to the Ariel
University Center of Samaria was “unfortunate” and “the fact that [Defense
Minister] Ehud Barak decided to adopt it and give recognition to the university
for the ‘sciences’ of continued occupation and destruction of democracy is a
wasteful political decision designed to help [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu
in the election.
“This recognition will cost Israel further international
isolation that will now expand to academia,” Gal-On continued.
Monday ordered the upgrade of Ariel University Center to a fully accredited
This would be the first time since the Open University
officially recognized in 1980 that an Israeli institute of higher learning has
Ariel University Center said following Monday’s
decision: “We are pleased to see that all those concerned were never diverted by
the false arguments of those with extraneous interests.
foremost is Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who withstood heavy pressure and
insisted on recognizing an eighth research university in Israel. Along with him
the move was assisted by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, former foreign
minister Avigdor Liberman, Minister of Sport Limor Livnat, as well as Attorney-
General Yehuda Weinstein and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who worked by
understanding of the truth and did not heed to the objections,” the university
Netanyahu on Tuesday called the recognition of the Ariel
University “a very important addition.”
Sa’ar agreed, and expressed his
satisfaction with the initiative: “This term [as education minister] was
successful in completing a huge move despite numerous irrelevant
“Making Ariel University Center the eight university in
Israel is important news for the entire higher education system,” Sa’ar said.