Trajtenberg: Committee Appointed to Determine Status of West Bank College Is 'Illegitimate'

Chairman of the Budget and Planning Committee Manuel Trajtenberg says discussion over Ariel College on 'ideological-political grounds' would 'critically harm the academy.'

On the eve of the decision over whether to recognize Ariel College as a university, Chairman of the Budget and Planning Committee Manuel Trajtenberg ruled that the committee established to determine the college’s status is "illegitimate."

According to Trajtenberg, who made headlines last year after he was appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to examine and propose solutions to Israel's socioeconomic problems, the discussion surrounding the issue could “not take place on ideological-political grounds,” adding that it would “critically harm the academy.”

The move comes hours after Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced he would support the upgrade.

In a detailed report released by the Chairman of the Council of Higher Learning in the West Bank Amos Altschuler, which will be published in Haaretz on Tuesday, Trajtenberg pulls the rug from under the Budget and Planning Committee, which is headed by the Altschuler himself, claiming that it does not meet the academic standards accepted in Israel or the rest of the world.

“The very question of whether Ariel College should be recognized as a university, while the question is being disconnected from a wider context (planning, economic, and the like), is extremely problematic,” Trajtenberg wrote.

“It is illogical that such an essential question will be discussed and decided by a body responsible for a single higher education institution and 3% of students.”

Trajtenberg further used the example of a document from the deliberations over the establishment of Safed Medical School: “The question back then was not whether Bar Ilan University (or any other institution) will establish its own medical school….but whether the State of Israel needs another medical school.”

“How is it possible that an institution demands that it be determined whether or not it is “proper” to establish a center of excellence without the appropriate process – without determining its necessity or competitive procedure? Is this how we should distribute public funds?”

Trajtenberg also clarified that his criticism was not pointed at members of the committee, whom he called “well-known, top-of-the-line researchers,” but rather at the committee’s mandate.

Read this article in Hebrew