Sa’ar: Gov't, not Barak, must make call on Ariel

Education Minister accuses Defense Minister of “transparent tricks” to stop establishment of first university in West Bank.

Gideon Sa’ar speech 311 (photo credit: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)
Gideon Sa’ar speech 311
(photo credit: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)
The government, not Defense Minister Ehud Barak, must make the final decision on whether Ariel University Center can become a university, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar said on Monday.
After nearly two months of deliberation since the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria granted Ariel University Center full university status, Barak wrote a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recommending that the decision be made after a Supreme Court ruling on the matter.
Since Ariel is in the West Bank, which is under IDF authority, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon must sign the document making Ariel a university, and may only do so after receiving instructions from Barak.
“This is a transparent trick by Barak, which is meant to delay the recognition of Ariel as a university,” Sa’ar said.
According to Sa’ar, it is likely that the Supreme Court would wait for Alon’s signature before ruling, and the government, not Barak, should tell Alon what to do.
Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said that Barak is using his power illegitimately, and that the defense minister may have breached the coalition agreement. As such, Elkin added, Barak should not be surprised if other coalition partners no longer feel obligated to him in votes that are important to his Independence Party.
Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), co-chairwoman of the Knesset Caucus to Turn Ariel into a University, said Barak behaved outside of his authority.
“As long as there is no security issue, Barak cannot make the judgment, and doing so for political gain and sabotaging decisions of those authorized to do so is anti-democratic,” Hotovely said.
She called for Barak to take care of defense and leave higher education alone.
MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beytenu), the second chairman of the Knesset caucus, also accused Barak and Independence of breaking coalition agreements.
“The defense minister used his authority, the IDF and the OC Central Command improperly in order to promote his political opinions,” Miller said.
“He is making a mockery of the prime minister, the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria and thousands of students.”