Knesset adopts law to extend Israeli law to academic institutions in West Bank

A file photo of Ariel University's campus in the occupied West Bank
A file photo of Ariel University’s campus in the occupied West Bank

The Israeli parliament has approved a law that will extend Tel Aviv’s law to the West Bank-based academic institutions, in line with the regime’s agenda to annex more occupied Palestinian land.

Knesset members passed the law with 56 votes in favor and 36 against on Monday, Ha’aretz reported.

It abolishes the Council for Higher Education in the West Bank and brings the academic institutions there under the wings of the Council for Higher Education in Israel.

Lawmaker Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, who had set off the process for adopting the law, claims that it enables Israel to “apply its sovereignty.”

The process was expedited with the support of Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who says it will pave the way for the establishment of a medical faculty in the West Bank-based Ariel University, thus helping Israel make up for its “severe” shortage of doctors.

Israel occupied the West Bank during its Six-Day War of 1967 against Arab territories. Since then, it has been building scores of settlements there to insidiously annex the territory.

The Knesset is, meanwhile, advancing a bill seeking to subject the entire settlements to “Israeli sovereignty.”

Yousef Jabreen, a lawmaker from the Joint List, which comprises Arab legislators, however, said in reaction to the legislation that the “policy of annexation has shifted from creeping to running.”

“By nature, academia promotes values of peace, democracy and tolerance. These values can’t exist in the shadow of a military occupation,” he added.

Other opponents inside Israel say the law violates an agreement between Israel and the European Union, which obliges Tel Aviv not to conflate the West Bank-based academic institutions and the Israeli ones.

They say it may invigorate the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) international movement, which promotes boycott of the Israeli and international enterprises, which invest in the settlements.