The Knesset yesterday passed in its first reading a bill extending the authority of the Israeli Higher Education Council over higher education institutions in illegal settlements built on Palestinian lands occupied in 1967.
The Ariel bill was proposed by Education, Sports and Culture Committee chairman MK Ya'acov Margi and MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli.
The bill aims to extend Israel's sovereignty over the West Bank under the pretext of facilitating the opening of a medical school in Ariel University.
The bill effectively abolishes the West Bank Higher Education Committee which is part of Israel's military system and extends the civil Israeli Higher Education Council's authority over the illegal West Bank settlements.
Arab MK Yousef Jabareen said: "We are facing another serious step by the Israeli government and settlers to annex the occupied Palestinian territories. After passing the settlements bill, we are witnessing another serious bill to annex Ariel settlement."
Jabareen said the bill will affect all universities in Israel, because it will hinder any future cooperation between Israeli universities and international and European research institutions.
"But it is clear that annexation plans are more important to the right than any academic development," Jabareen said, adding that academic institutions must develop the values of equality, justice and freedom and this cannot be reconciled with the existence of an academic institution in the settlement of Ariel which is part of an apartheid regime that has been in place for decades.