A Last-minute Settler Grab

It’s not just the question of an Israeli medical school in the West Bank that hangs in the balance. What’s at stake here is an academia free of political pressure

Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at the inauguration ceremony for the Ariel University Medical school

Haaretz Editorial, Feb 13, 2019

On Wednesday, the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria is expected to convene to approve the establishment of a medical school at Ariel University, in defiance of the position of the Israeli Council for Higher Education’s Planning and Budgeting Committee.

This will evidently be the last decision of the agency, which derives its power from orders issued by the head of the army’s Central Command: It is slated to be dissolved Friday, its authority over academic institutions in the West Bank assumed by the Council for Higher Education in Israel. The attempt to approve the medical school is thus a last-minute power play.

Some members of the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria also belong to the national body. But their political commitment to the battle to annex the occupied territories overrides any other consideration.The appeal to this biased agency, whose sole purpose was to develop Jewish academic institutions in the West Bank, came after the Planning and Budgeting Committee rejected last Thursday Ariel’s application to open a medical school. This decision was the result of a revote, ordered by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit after Haaretz found that Rivka Wadmany Shauman, a committee member, had a conflict of interest when she supported the new med school last year.

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