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December 24, 2012 5:27 pm

Outgoing Defense Minister Recognizes Ariel College as University

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Ariel University. Photo: Chezi Eyal/ Tazpit News Agency.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave the order on Monday to officially accredit Ariel University Center of Samaria as a full-fledged university, making it the first Israeli university to be located beyond the 1949 Green Line, Israel Hayom reported.

Barak instructed GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon to approve the Judea and Samaria Council of Higher Education’s recommendation Monday night.

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein ruled that nothing stood in the way of making Ariel University Center a university. The decision to upgrade its status was met with harsh resistance from the presiding heads of the other universities as well as from the budget and planning committee of the Council for Higher Education in Israel.

Education Minister and Chairman of the Council for Higher Education in Israel Gideon Sa’ar said the decision brought one of the “biggest campaigns I have led” to completion, and that “despite countless irrelevant objections, this [decision] sends an important message to the academic community as a whole.”

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Ariel University Center President Yigal Cohen-Orgad to congratulate him. “After many decades the state of Israel finally has another university. This is a big day for higher education in Israel,” Netanyahu said.

Meretz party Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On, however, called the decision “disheartening.”

“The recognition of this university will cost Israel further international isolation and academic boycotts,” Gal-On said.

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