In an apparent turn-around, Bar-Ilan University President Professor Moshe Kaveh said on Monday that he refused to participate in a legal effort against granting Ariel University Center (AUC) official university status. However, Kaveh later said he still opposes upgrading AUC's status.Last week, the presidents of Israel's universities and one of its larger colleges petitioned the High Court of Justice to overturn its decision to upgrade the center's official status to university.Professor Moshe Kaveh decided not to join the petition to the High Court of Justice filed by other Israeli universities despite his continued opposition to upgrading the college's status."Bar-Ilan University shares and supports the position of the [Planning and Budget Committee of the Higher Education Council] not to establish a ninth university in Israel at this time, following a decade of budget cuts, in which universities lost 1,000 staff members who went overseas, and and the need to absorb another 2,000 staff members in the coming decade," read a statement released by the university on Tuesday.Because of Bar-Ilan's long-standing links to and cooperation agreements with Ariel University Center, however, Professor Kaveh decided not to join the petition to the High Court of Justice seeking to block the move. Bar-Ilan always opposed the legal move but agreed to allow the petition being filed by all universities as one body. When it became clear that each university had to individually sign a power-of-attorney in the matter, Professor Kaveh decided not to join the petition.The petitioners argued that the decision to upgrade AUC had been unreasonable according to any relevant criteria and had been made by the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria, a body with no jurisdiction in the matter.The move contradicted the position of the main Council of Higher Education of Israel.
Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.