has withdrawn its support of the petition
filed to the High Court of Justice by other Israeli universities, which demand that it rules against a decision to grant the Ariel University
Center of Samaria (AUCS) university status. This marks a major rift between Israeli universities which are trying to prevent the establishment of the first Hebrew university in the West Bank. They claim that enabling an 'Ariel University' will deliver a blow to their budgets.
Before filing the petition on last Monday, it had to be ratified by the the Council of Presidents of Israeli Universities. During deliberations, President of Bar-Ilan University, Professor Moshe Kaveh,
expressed his reservations on the issue but eventually voted - like all other university presidents - in favor of the petition. But when the time came for universities to grant power of attorney to the law offices representing them in the petition, Professor Kaveh refused to sign it.
Many staff members at Bar-Ilan, which emphasizes teaching Jewish heritage, support maintaining a university in Ariel. it was Bar-Ilan University which initiated the established of AUCS. As an institution, Bar-Ilan still believes there's no room for a new university in Israel but the university's top brass think the High Court petition is a wrong & exaggerated move.
Ariel University Center of Samaria
Kaveh's decision has sparked heavy criticism in other universities, which blame Bar-Ilan of politicizing the issue. "Bar-Ilan and Ariel benefit from the same donors and it's a shame that due to right wing pressures Bar-Ilan had to drop out of the petition," said a senior official in the higher education system. "In any case, the other universities will continue with the move, as this is a professional and substantial issue, not a political one."
AUCS officials welcomed Bar-Ilan University's decision to support its recognition as a university 'after it has stood up to all the required professional standards.'