The High Court of Justice on Tuesday rejected a petition filed by the Council of Presidents of Israeli Universities seeking to overturn a 2012 decision by the Council for Higher Education to upgrade the status of Ariel University Center to that of a full-fledged university.
The decision was made upon the recommendation of former Defense Minister Ehud Barak and review by Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, who ruled that there was no legal reason to prevent the move, thus declaring it the first university beyond the Green Line.
The heads of Israel's seven other universities attempted to torpedo the college's accreditation upgrade, citing that Israel did not need another university, and that instating the college as one would harm Israel's higher-education system.
Bar-Ilan University, which was originally part of the petition, later asked to have its name removed from it.
The court ruled that the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria, which is independent from the Council for Higher Education, had satisfied the latter's accreditation requirements, and therefore was not obligated by the recommendations of its zoning and budgets committee, which opposed the move.
"The court has found no grounds to intervene in Ariel University's accreditation process," Chief Justice Asher Grunis wrote in his ruling.
Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar, who, while serving as the education minister during the previous government's term, promoted the college's academic accreditation upgrade, welcomed the court's decision.
"This was an unnecessary petition to begin with. Ariel University received its academic accreditation through a bona fide process, and it was made to live up to standards that did not even exist when its counterparts were accredited.
"It's a shame that the other universities failed to respect the decisions made by the government, the Council for Higher Education and the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria on the matter. They will now be forced to accept the High Court's ruling reaffirming the establishment of an eighth university in Israel," Sa'ar said.
Deputy Education Minister MK Avi Wortzman (Habayit Hayehudi) also welcomed the court's ruling, saying that it "reinforces the fact that [the city of] Ariel was an inseparable part of the State of Israel."
Ariel University issued the following statement: "This petition was without merit. The university continues to focus on its breakthrough scientific research."