Barak: Ariel college can be university

Peace Now: Decision favors higher educational institutions in West Bank over rest of Israel.

ariel college 298 (photo credit: Courtesy photo)
ariel college 298
(photo credit: Courtesy photo)

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesdaythat he would recognize a five-year old government decision toofficially turn Israel's largest public college, located in Ariel, intoa full-fledged university.

MKMichael Ben-Ari (National Unity) welcomed the decision and said thatthe real test will be in reversing the settlement construction freezein Judea and Samaria.

Peace Now released a statement saying that Barak's decision isa blight on academia and shows favoritism for higher educationalinstitutions in the West Bank over other parts of Israel.

"Only in Israel is the defense minister the authority onacademic issues in conquered territories in which the army is the onlysovereign," stated Peace Now.

The Ariel University Center of Samaria was foundedin 1982 as Bar-Ilan University's regional West Bank branch. Originallylocated in Kedumim, it moved to Ariel to expand.

In August 2007, the college declared itself a 'university center', and prime minister Ehud Olmert endorsed the change.