Attorney General Deputies Dina Zilber and Raz Nazri on Monday instructed Israel’s Council for Higher Education to convene its Planning and Budgeting Committee to reconsider the decision to establish a medical school at Ariel University, Haaretz reported Monday.
Zilber and Nazri argued that one committee member, Dr. Rivka Wadmany-Shauman, supported the move while Ariel University was discussing her promotion, which meant she was in a conflict of interests.
Adding insult to injury, the two AG deputies banned Wadmany-Shauman from participating in the renewed debate, and also banned another committee member, Tzvi Hauser, because he just enrolled on Benny Gantz’s new Resilience for Israel Party. And they insisted the new PBC decision must be received by Thursday.
As things stand, with two pro-Ariel members removed in a style reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird, there’s no reason to expect the remaining five committee members would endorse the Ariel medical school (funds for the new school were donated largely by philanthropists Sheldon and Miriam Adelson).
Ariel University said at the time that Dr. Wadmany-Shauman, who was a faculty member, did not know about her pending promotion, and there was no connection between that and her vote. The university stressed that the decision to approve the establishment of the new school had been made “in view of the recommendations of a high-level professional committee and in view of the acute shortage of doctors [in Israel].”
The deputy AGs for their part insisted that “Dr. Wadmany must be viewed as someone who should have avoided dealing with matters directly related to the University of Ariel, at least from the date she transferred the absorption and appointment forms for her appointment as a professor – that is, starting January 2018.”
They also wrote that “the conflict of interest that took place in the decision apparently leads to the conclusion that the PBC should reconsider the decision without the presence of Dr. Wadmany.”
According to the two deputes, a new decision by the PBC will have to also address the considerations argued by the University of Ariel regarding the expected harm to students, lecturers and the health system and the public as a whole.
Last November, after Deputy AG Dina Zilber had attacked the policy of the Justice Ministry before a Knesset committee, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked sent AG Avichai Mandelblit a letter summarizing all of Zilber’s inappropriate public comments over the years, and announced that Zilber may no longer represent the justice ministry anywhere, and that she, Shaked, wanted her resignation. She was supported by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.