Defense Minister Ehud Barak,
who has recently been delaying the final approval for the Ariel
University Center's upgrade, is advising Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
to wait for the High Court of Justice's ruling on the matter.
In a letter to the prime minister, Barak said that having spoken to all the relevant parties, he recommends waiting for the High Court to rule on a petition
against the establishment of the university before bringing the matter before the government.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar slammed Barak and said the letter was "an obvious trick meant to delay the recognition of Ariel as a university."
He added that the government, and not the defense minister, is responsible of guiding the Central Command chief on the matter. Sa'ar noted that he had asked the cabinet secretary last month to put the issue on the government's agenda and "hopes it will be done soon."
"It is more likely that the High Court will wait for the command chief's signature before making its ruling," he added.
Coalition Chairman Zeev Elkin also criticized the move. "I'm sorry that the defense minister uses his technical authority to delay the transition of the Ariel Center into a university contrary to a professional decision by the Higher Education Council. Barak is thus violating a coalition agreement whose faction is party to."
Sources at the Ariel University Center said they "expect the prime minister to show leadership and complete the process which began with a cabinet decision in 2005 and give the University Center permanent recognition as a university."
Less than two months ago, the Judea and Samaria Higher Education Council decided to upgrade
the status of the Ariel University Center in Samaria to that of a university, contrary to the position of the Higher Education Council.
The decision is pending the approval of the Central Command chief, the sovereign in the West Bank, who answers to Barak. The defense minister has yet to give his approval.
The prime minister and Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar welcomed the decision but the university heads protested the move and filed a petition with the High Court. They described the decision as "unreasonable."
Tomer Velmer contributed to this report