World Bulletin / News Desk
Israel upgraded a college in the occupied West Bank, territory the Palestinians want for a state, to the level of university on Tuesday, a move that critics said was politically motivated.
The Ariel University of Samaria's new status will entitle it to more state funding, and some see the move as designed to strengthen Israel's control in the occupied West Bank.
"This decision is not a decision to promote the education system in Israel," said Yariv Oppenheimer, head of the Israeli anti-settlement organisation Peace Now. "(It is intended) to gain the support of the settlers."
The chancellor of the university, founded in 1982 and attended by more than 13,000 students, dismissed the criticism.
"There are many Israelis very interested in developing Samaria and Judea," said Yigal Cohen-Orgad, using the biblical name for the West Bank.
The upgrade needs Israeli military approval to be finalised.
The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. But Israel put about 311,000 Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank where 2.5 million Palestinians live.
The United Nations rules all Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank to be illegal.Last Mod: 18 Temmuz 2012, 09:43