Israel giving West Bank university $14 million in aid


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid will grant nearly $14 million in aid to Ariel University in the West Bank despite the package’s rejection by the Council for Higher Education.

The money, which was pledged by Lapid’s predecessor, Yuval Steinitz, will be transferred in two stages, Haaretz reported Sunday.

The announcement of the grant was made last week, according to the newspaper.

The education council’s budget committee had rejected the aid package. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein earlier this year blocked the transfer of the money, which had been approved during the election campaign.

About 40 percent of the assistance will be transferred in August following passage of the new budget, according to Haaretz, with the rest early in 2014.

The Ariel University Center was recognized by Israel’s Cabinet as an accredited university last September, when it became Israel’s eighth university. Two months earlier, the center was recognized as a full university by the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria, which was established in 1997 after the Council for Higher Education refused to discuss academic issues concerning the West Bank.

The Judea and Samaria council’s 11-2 vote for approval came despite a recommendation by the planning and budget committee of the Council for Higher Education, as well as opposition from the country’s other seven universities and public figures who objected to upgrading a college in the West Bank.

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