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Knesset Finance Committee approves budget cuts to transfer NIS 480 million for religious education institutions

Funds are part of coalition agreements with religious parties

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish children on the first day of school at an Ultra-Orthodox school in Neve Yaakov neighborhood of Jerusalem, Aug. 9, 2021. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Knesset Finance Committee approved a transfer of NIS 480 million (about $126 million) that will go toward Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish educational institutions, the committee announced on Tuesday.

The move was part of the coalition agreements with the religious parties United Torah Judaism, Shas, Religious Zionism and Jewish Power (Otzma Yehudit), Israeli media reported.

The funds will be cut and transferred from the budgets of several government ministries in the amount of about NIS 736 million ($193 million).

The other portion of the transferred funds will be used to fund the development of Druze and Circassian communities in northern Israel, other education programs, bomb shelters in Gaza border communities and the reduction of socio-economic gaps in East Jerusalem and Arab communities, among others.

Of the total funds allotted to religious educational institutions, NIS 122 million ($31.9 million) will go to an educational network that is close to the UTJ party, NIS 114.5 million (about $30 million) to the Shas-affiliated educational network, NIS 150 million ($39.2 million) will be transferred to a digitalization project in Torah institutions, and NIS 95 million (a little over $24.8 million) for educational institutions in settlements.

Childcare subsidies, disabled care, Education Ministry resources and funds to assist Holocaust survivors were among the budgets cut to finance the move.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party slammed the decision.

“This government abuses its weakest citizens and crushes the middle class. It needs to go away before the damage becomes irreversible,” Lapid wrote.

“This is the first act that was carried out in accordance with the coalition agreements, and I hope that we will continue, with God’s help, to fill in all the gaps that have harmed the ultra-Orthodox public,” the chair of the Finance Committee, United Torah Judaism Knesset Member Moshe Gafni, said after the announcement.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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