Israeli university heads file lawsuit against recognition of Ariel center

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli university heads filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court against the recognition of Ariel University Center as a full-fledged university.

The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, hours after Israel Defense Forces’ central commander in the West Bank, Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, signed a document that grants official recognition of Ariel University Center in the West Bank as a university.

The president of Bar Ilan University did not sign on to the lawsuit. Ariel College was a branch of Bar Ilan before it began to seek official university status.

The court late on Wednesday night declined to issue an injunction against the decision to grant university status becoming final.

The request was signed by signed by the heads of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the Weizmann Institute of Science, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the University of Haifa and the Open University,

In July, the Ariel center was recognized as a full university by the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria, which was established in 1997 after Israel’s Council for Higher Education refused to discuss academic issues concerning the West Bank.

The Judea and Samaria council’s 11-2 vote came despite a recommendation against approval by the planning and budget committee of Israel’s Council for Higher Education, as well as opposition from the country’s other universities and public figures who objected to upgrading a college in the West Bank. They also say that the establishment of another full university in Israel will harm higher education in the country.

The decision was ratified by the Knesset in September.

In 2007, the Ariel academic center was granted temporary recognition as a so-called university center, and its status was to be reexamined within five years. Ariel, with a population of about 20,000, is located southwest of the Palestinian city of Nablus.

The center has more than 10,000 students, Jewish and Arab. Some 15 percent of the college’s students live in the West Bank.

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