Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Status of Ariel

After years of pressure, especially from Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak has decided to recognize Ariel College's status as a university. Since it is in the West Bank, this is under his authority, rather than that of the Minister of Education. The college has been calling itself the Ariel University Center of Samaria for years. Some say that the decision has few practical implications, but that doesn't matter. Moves like this are against the best interests of the State of Israel. This is the kind of "facts on the ground" stuff that does nothing but anger Palestinians and the international community.

Usually when Israelis talk about land swaps, Ariel is mentioned as one of the settlement blocs that will become part of Israel. Until I saw a map of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's proposal for final borders, I never realized how deep inside the West Bank Ariel is. It would require annexing a lot of Palestinian territory, and giving up a lot of pre-1967 Israeli territory in exchange. That's bad. Ariel should become part of Palestine.

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