After a setback that shocked the Israeli medical establishment last week, Ariel University appeared on track Wednesday to add a medical school to its campus.
Just hours after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit ruled that the Council for Higher Education in Yehudah and Shomron was not bound by a prior committee vote against the project, the CHEYS voted to approve it.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett lauded Mandelblit’s decision and the CHEYS vote in favor on Wednesday as “a huge victory for medicine in Israel.”
A senior Education Ministry official was quoted by Arutz Sheva as saying, “It is unbelievable how much the university cartel tried to do everything to poke the wheels of competition and thwart the move.”
The news comes amid an acute shortage in medical professionals in the country. Earlier this week, the Rambam Hospital in Haifa said that overcrowding in its emergency room had topped 200 percent and patients were being put on stretchers. A strike by hospital nurses around the country several months ago was due to personnel shortages, which caused delays in treatment and violent anger directed at nurses who were unfairly blamed for the delays.
Deputy Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman expressed disappointment in the vote last week to block the new medical faculty at Ariel: “This was to be an essential and critical component in increasing the number of medical students in Israel,” he said.
“It is inconceivable that more than half of Israel’s medical graduates come from abroad in schools that are not always satisfactory,” Rabbi Litzman said.
The final decision will be up to the main Council for Higher Education, which is slated to absorb the Yehudah and Shomron branch on Thursday. Expectations are that final approval will be forthcoming.