The Israeli government voted overwhelmingly in favor of recognizing the Ariel University Center of Samaria as an accredited university on Sunday.
The cabinet resolution is symbolic, since the controversial change to the status of the institution, which is located in the West Bank city of Ariel, must first be approved by the High Court of Justice and then by the attorney general. Although the college bears the name "university center," it has never actually been accredited as such.
Speaking at the start of a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his support on the matter, saying that "Ariel is an inseparable part of Israel and it will remain that way under any future agreement."
Every minister voted in favor of accrediting the university center, except Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Agriculture Minister Orit Noked.
"Establishing a university in Ariel is part of a series of actions we are taking to strengthen higher education in Israel," Netanyahu said.
He added that he liked "to break monopolies and cartels, including in this field. If anyone had any doubt concerning my stance on the matter – it is important to have another university, and it is important for it to be in Ariel."
"The cabinet ascribes national importance to the conversion of Ariel University Center to a university and instructs the necessary measures be taken to confirm the resolution on this matter that was passed by the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria, in accordance with the opinion of the attorney general," read the proposal that was submitted to the cabinet.
The vague wording of the resolution is a result of the legal and political mess surrounding the educational institution.
University official said in response that Ariel is a political college, and that this "absurd" idea to promote it stems from the fact that it has political patron. The Council of Presidents of Israeli Universities said that "this is political decision there is no need for another university in Israel. This is a step that serves coalition and political interests and is bound to spell disaster for higher education in Israel."
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