MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ), who heads the Knesset Finance Committee, threatened that should the coalition agreement regarding the non-state run but state-recognized (NSRSR) schools not be met, then he would cancel the votes scheduled for the Finance Committee on Monday. This threat comes on the heels of his announcing that without a new conscription law on the books the Charedi parties would back out of the coalition, thus causing elections. Gafni likewise announced that the scheduled meetings for the Knesset Finance Committee on Sunday would be canceled due to the above-stated reason.
In a uncharacteristically raucous committee meeting thatdealt with next year’s budget for the Education Ministry and included the presence of the Education Minister Naftali Bennett as well as the Director of the Ministry, Gafni said that there existed a state of emergency in and discrimination against the non-state run schools with regards to funding. He said that until he receives an explanation for these problems from the Israeli Treasury, then he would continue to delay any votes on the Special Arrangements Law which accompanies the budget every year.
Numerous principals of NSRSR schools spoke at the meeting and complained of continual budget cuts over the past five years to their schools. Rabbi David Tekshe the head of Torat Eliyahu schools in Beit Shemesh said: “It is inappropriate for our children to fall in between the cracks of an argument between the Education Ministry and the Finance Ministry. Our children live in this country as well and deserve better.”
Members of the opposition MKs Stav Shafir and Micky Rosenthal said that: “All Israeli students should receive the same amount of the budget.”
Gafni said that there is no way to live with the current status quo. “Teacher’s salaries are being slashed time and again and because of this educational institutions are failing.” Gafni then informed the representative of the Finance Ministry who was at the meeting, that without a resolution on this issue, there will be no votes in the committee on Monday in addition to Sunday. “Israeli children will not be left alone in this predicament. If we need to, we will head to elections and it will be you in the Ministry who are at fault.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)