Israel Labor Minister rolls back plans to accept Palestinian university's degree
AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
Israel's Welfare and Labor minister rolled back plans to accept a degree in social work from the largest Palestinian university on Tuesday.
Haim Katz, a parliamentarian in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, went against recommendations from officials in his administration, who argued for recognition of degrees in social work from Al-Quds university.
Al-Quds is the largest Palestinian institution of higher learning, with 1,300 academic staff and 13,000 students, awarding degrees up to MA level.
Most of its students come from the West Bank, attending one of its four campuses. The largest one is in Abu Dis, just outside Jerusalem.
The Ministry is facing severe labor shortages among social workers, especially in predominantly Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, which could be filled by accepting the qualification from Al-Quds.
However, a report published in Israeli free newspaper Israel Hayom made it politically untenable for the right-wing minister to support the move.
The paper apparently obtained a document recognizing the diploma.
Signed by Katz, the document recognized the degree as legitimate for accreditation, naming Al-Quds as a "foreign school."
The paper confronted the minister with the alleged history of the university as a "hotbed" of terrorism and incitement.
The minister was forced to retract the policy, telling Israel Hayom "we will tackle the shortage of social workers without the help of an institution that undermines Israel's legitimacy."
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