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Daily Israel Report

MKs Threaten Financial Block over Yeshiva Budgets

Finance Committee members from Bayit Yehudi, Hatnua threaten to withhold funds over cut to money for foreign yeshiva students.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 10/8/2013, 7:33 PM

MK Zevulun Kalfa
MK Zevulun Kalfa
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The funding cut for Jewish students from overseas who learn in Israeli yeshivas may lead to a showdown within government. MKs Zevulun Kalfa (Bayit Yehudi) and Eliezer Stern (Hatnua), both members of the Finance Committee, have threatened to vote down budget transfers if the budget for overseas students is not restored.

Committee Head MK Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) suggested a similar move. Slomiansky proposed that the committee refuse to authorize budget requests for the Education Ministry until the budget cut is reversed.

The suggested protest measures were put forth during the committee’s session Tuesday.

The budget cut in question will slash the funding for yeshivas with overseas students by a total of 12.5 million shekels per year. It is expected to affect yeshivas from across the religious spectrum.

The proposed cut will save relatively little money while undermining Israel’s dearest values, MK Kalfa warned.

“Providing funding for students from abroad is a prime example of Zionism,” he argued. “The state of Israel invests considerable money in programs aimed at bringing young people to Israel, with the idea being that their families will follow them here. It doesn’t make sense that a program that costs very little relative to the other programs be cut from the yeshiva budget.”

The budget cut “contradicts explicit commitments that the Finance Ministry and Education Ministry made” during the vote on addendums to the national budget, Kalfa accused.

MK Stern told Arutz Sheva that he will do what he can to avoid a standoff in the form of refusing to authorize budgets, but that the problem of overseas yeshiva students must be solved.

During its meeting the committee authorized one budget transfer for the Education Ministry: nine million shekels for youth whose families were expelled from Gaza or northern Samaria under the 2005 Disengagement plan. The funding will be used for transportation to and from school, psychological counseling, and aid for youth at risk.