Israel establishes settlement university

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet has voted to establish the first Israeli university in the occupied West Bank in the settlement of Ariel.

    The university is in a settlement in the occupied West Bank

    Thirteen ministers voted for the proposal to upgrade the status

    of the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel while seven voted

    against on Monday.

    Public radio said Education Minister Limor Livnat had proposed

    the upgrade in response to a British academic boycott of Bar Ilan U

    niversity, close to Tel Aviv, which was imposed last month on the

    basis of its involvement with the College of Judea and Samaria.

    Ariel, home to about 17,000 settlers, is situated 20km

    to the east of the internationally-recognised

    border between Israel and the West Bank.

    The decision to upgrade the Ariel institution was taken at the

    same time that ministers also agreed to combine a number of colleges

    in northern Israel to create a university in the Galilee region.

    Largely symbolic

    The Israeli government had initially responded to the boycott

    vote by the Association of University Teachers, Britain's largest

    university teachers union, by denouncing it as a "biased and

    iniquitous decision".

    The immediate impact of the upgrade is largely symbolic.

    A spokeswoman for the Education Ministry said the change in

    status did not mean that the college in Ariel would receive any

    extra funding in the short-term.

    "The minister will not ask for any more money for five years,"

    the spokeswoman said. "Everything will stay the same."



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