Israel’s education minister has attacked what he described as a “university cartel” that opposed the creation of a medical school in the West Bank settlements.
Academics had claimed that the new medical school was being pushed through at the insistence of Mr Bennett, who leads the pro-settlement HaBayit HaYehudi party, even though it would not meet the required academic standards. The West Bank settlements are viewed as being illegal under international law.
At the dedication ceremony, Mr Bennett said that establishing the faculty “was like doing dental work while 20 people are trying to stop it...there’s a university cartel in Israel,” he said.
The new medical school is expected to open in 2019.
Ariel University was at the centre of controversy earlier this year when legislation was passed bringing it under the auspices of the Council for Higher Education. Critics warned that the move – seen as amounting to the first annexation to Israel of a part of the occupied territories in 50 years – could lead to academic boycotts of the country being ramped up.