Education Council Blocks Adelson-funded West Bank Med School

The revote came after Haaretz reported that one council member was vying for a professorship at the West Bank institution, Ariel University, when she voted to set up the medical school

Education Minister Naftali Bennett on February 7, 2019.
Emil Salman

The Council for Higher Education reversed course Thursday and voted not to support West Bank-based Ariel University’s establishment of a medical school. The decision came in a 3:2 vote.

The revote was ordered by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit after he confirmed a Haaretz article this week stating that one council member, Rivka Wadmany Shauman, was vying for a professorship at the university when she voted to support plans for the med school.

The school was reportedly to be funded largely from a $20 million donation by U.S. casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

The future of the project is now expected to go back to the attorney general.

The reversal is bad news for Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who had touted an Ariel medical school as a flagship achievement. “I don’t intend to give up,” Bennett, now the leader of the new right-wing party Hayamin Hehadash, said Thursday.

Referring to the opposition to the plans for the school also by Israel’s other universities, he added: “I will fight the university cartel until we establish the medical school at Ariel University.”

In December, the Justice Ministry ordered Ariel University to avoid any irreversible steps concerning the establishment of a medical school, and to inform students who signed up that the school had not yet been approved.