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Israel Upgrades Status of ‘Settlement U.’

The Judea and Samaria Council for Higher Education has decided on Tuesday to recognize the Ariel University Center as a full-fledged university. The planning and budget committee of the state’s Council for Higher Education had recommended against the move.

On Sunday, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz announced he was “paving the way” for the establishment of the first university in the West Bank by making use of “special funding.” Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar sent a letter to the chairman of the Judea and Samaria higher education council expressing his support for transforming the Ariel institute into a university.

Sa’ar expressed his support for the move although he is chairman of the state’s Council for Higher Education, which opposed the move. The 15-member Judea and Samaria education panel was established in 1997 after the state’s council refused to discuss issues involving academics in the territories. As the highest authority in the territories, the law establishing the council was signed by the commander of the Israel Defense Force’s Central Command. It states that members of the council are to be appointed by the head of Central Command, either from current or past members of the state’s Council for Higher Education. The military commander is the final authority governing decisions by the Judea and Samaria education council, which will be the case with its decision regarding the Ariel University Center. Following political moves to annul the recommendations of the state Council for Higher Education’s planning and budget committee, the committee’s chairman, Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, sent a memo to the chairman of the Judea and Samaria education council, Prof. Amos Altshuler, outlining why he believes that panel lacks the legitimacy to decide whether to recognize the Ariel institute as a university.

For more, go to Haaretz.com

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