From JPost, 24 Dec 2012, by YONAH JEREMY BOB, YONI DAYAN, TOVAH LAZAROFF:
Hours after A-G pens letter supporting giving Ariel University Center official university status, outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak issues directive to OC Central Command Alon to recognize Israel's 8th university.
Outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday ordered the accreditation of Ariel University in [Samaria], a move that poises it to become the eight such Israeli institution.
Once OC Central Command Maj.- Gen. Nitzan Alon signs the order, an issue of formality, it will be the first time in close to 40 years that an Israeli institute of higher learning has been accredited.
Left wing politicians, academics and activists as well as Palestinians and the international community have in the past heavily criticized the push to accredit the university, because of it is located in the Ariel settlement in the Samaria region...
But on Monday night Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) hailed Barak’s decision. It came just hours after Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein formally recommended and reiterated his support for the move.
Netanyahu called university’s chancellor Yigal Cohen-Orgad to congratulate him.
“After decades, the state has an additional university,” he said. “It further strengthens higher education in Israel,” Netanyahu added.
Earlier in the day, Weinstein penned a letter to Alon, recommending he proceed with the process of recognizing the university, which had gone under the name of Ariel University Center of Samaria.
Weinstein advised that there was no reason to delay the accreditation process, which now needs only Alon’s signature.
On Monday night, Barak ordered Alon to sign the accreditation, which is in line with a July decision by the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria.
Alon has yet to sign, but that is just a formality, and his signature is expected soon.
Weinstein said that the decision of the Judea and Samaria Council combined with the government's decision earlier this year to grant the institute university status, gave Alon the power to approve AUC...
Ariel University, which has 14,000 students, was first created in 1982 as a branch of Bar-Ilan University. It became an independent college in the 1990s and upgraded to the status of University Center, in 2007....
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar expressed "satisfaction" over the decision. "An important process has been completed during the current government term - a process which I led despite numerous irrelevant objections," Sa'ar said. "Making the AUC Israel's eighth university is the right move for the country's higher education system."
The University said Barak’s order proved once and for all that it was equal in status and stature to the other seven Israeli accredited universities.