The truth about Ariel University

Last updated: 2022-04-27

We have collected here a list of facts that should be known about this institute:

    • Ariel University is located in an Israeli settlement built in the occupied Palestinian territories (occupied by Israel since 1967). It is built on land confiscated from the local Palestinian residents [1], using military directives.
    • Israel applies a military rule over the local Palestinian inhabitants, including military court, for 55 years.
    • These occupied territories have never been annexed to Israel, as recently reiterated by the Israeli Supreme Court decision regarding Ariel University [2]. Ariel is NOT inside the state of Israel.  The United Nations designation of this territory is Occupied Palestinian territories (OPT or oPt).
    • Until 2019, being in a military occupation area, Ariel University was not governed academically by the Israeli Council of Higher Education which governs academic institutions in Israel, but under a special body called the “Council of Higher Education – Judea and Samaria”, which was appointed by the military commanders in the area, and which naturally contained only people supporting the settlements. This body approved the promotion of the College at Ariel to a University, despite the fact that its academic level at the time was well below that of the universities in Israel (and even below that of some colleges).
    • In 2018 the Israeli parliament passed a correction to the Higher Education Law, which gave the Israeli Council of Higher Education jurisdiction also over Ariel University. This correction caused a complete politicization of the Council (which was traditionally a non-political body), with its members appointed by the Ministers of Education partly according to their views on Ariel University [LINKS]. In particular, people opposing the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the settlements there can no longer serve in this important body, thus damaging the whole Israeli academic system.
    • The Israeli settlements in general, and Ariel University in particular, are deemed by most accepted interpretations to be in violation of international treaties such as the Geneva convention, which forbids the transfer of population from the conquering state into the occupied territory, and are therefore widely considered to be illegal.

  • The settlement of Ariel, and Ariel University, were built to advance the political agenda of the right-wing parties in Israel who wish to make the Israeli occupation permanent [3], thereby removing the possibility of the Palestinians having an independent state, free of Israeli occupation. Therefore, the academic staff in Ariel has to agree with this political agenda to a large extent, which makes it an academic institution with a clear political bias, unlike any other in Israel or in any other democratic country.
  • In light of these facts, most major granting agencies that support research in Israel, such as the European Research Council (ERC), do not allow any of their grants to support research performed in the occupied territories in general, and at Ariel University in particular. Until 2020 this was also true of the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF), but this was changed by the Trump administration one week before the 2020 elections.
  • The local Palestinian residents living around Ariel are not allowed to enter the settlement, let alone the university. This is in contrast with the situation inside Israel, where academic institutions are equally open to all, as in all democratic societies.
  • The main road linking Ariel to Israel proper is practically closed to Palestinian traffic [1], and building it entailed confiscating huge tracts of lands from the local Palestinian population.
  • Through this road 85% of the students who attend Ariel University arrive from Israel. The geographic location of the university was not chosen to best serve the needs of the Israeli students, but to promote the settlements.
  • Among the basic rights that the Palestinians are deprived of by the Israeli military rule is the right for free travel within their land. These restrictions severely limit the accessibility of Palestinian students and faculty to their institutes of higher education.
  • Israel put severe restrictions on the Palestinian universities, by denying freedom of travel and access to students, faculty and foreign visitors.


1 About Ariel’s Crimes – Idan Landau’s Blog (Hebrew)
  LAND GRAB – Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank -B’TSELEM
  Ariel settlement fact sheet


2 Barak orders IDF general to approve Ariel academic institute as a university – The Times of Israel
  It’s Final: IDF Central Command Approves Ariel University – Arutz 7
  Hebrew University v. Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria – H.C.6168/12 (Hebrew)


3 Ariel University here to stay, education minister says at inaugural event – The Times of Israel
  Education Minister calls extraordinary meeting of higher education panel to approve Ariel University – Haaretz
  Member of Israel’s higher education council resigns over West Bank university recognition Haaretz