Barak delaying Ariel's transition to university

Defense Ministry says Barak considering "security and diplomatic repercussions" before approving transition.

DEFENSE MINISTER Ehud Barak 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Three weeks after The Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria decided to grant Ariel University Center full university status, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is delaying any progress toward realizing the decision.
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.
Barak plans to hold meetings in the next few weeks to decide whether he supports Ariel University Center’s transition to a full university, but his office would not say when the defense minister plans to announce his stance on the matter.
“The defense minister has to make a decision as the sovereign over the West Bank, and he will base his decision on meetings in the coming weeks,” Barak’s spokesman, Barak Serry, explained. “There are many aspects to this issue, including security and diplomatic repercussions.”
In 2010, Barak approved upgrading Ariel’s status from college to university center.
Right-wing MKs slammed Barak for delaying his decision, accusing him of having ulterior motives and promoting his own political agenda.
“No delay is acceptable,” said MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beytenu), an Ariel resident who heads the Knesset Caucus for Turning Ariel University Center into a University.
He added: “I want to remind Ehud Barak that the coalition agreement with Yisrael Beytenu says that Ariel must be recognized as a university, and any delay will be treated as a violation, including in the Knesset Finance Committee.”
MK Danny Danon (Likud) said he plans to call a meeting of Likud Central Committee members in Ariel, calling for the university center to be made a university.
“Barak, the destroyer of settlements, is trying to extort Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his own political gain by preventing Alon from signing the declaration,” Danon stated.
The Likud MK hopes that his planned meeting will put pressure on Netanyahu to personally intervene and “stop Barak’s attempts to harm settlements once again.”
“The Left, under Barak’s leadership, is trying to delay the decision in order to harm Ariel, settlements in Judea and Samaria and the Likud,” Danon added. “The government’s decision must be upheld, and Ariel must be declared a university, without delay.”