Foreign Yeshiva Student Budget to be Restored
The proposed budget cut for yeshiva students who come from abroad will be cancelled, according to agreements reached between Finance Minister Yair Lapid and MK Nisan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi/Jewish Home), who heads the Knesset's Finance Committee.
The proposed cut, which totals 50 million shekels, would have affected both hareidi and Religious Zionist yeshivas. At a certain point in the negotiations, the finance minister proposed that only the budget for non-Zionist institutions be slashed - as, unlike their Religious Zionist counterparts, they do not combine Torah study with national service - but MK Slomiansky rejected this idea.
Hareidi MKs launched a fierce attack on Slomiansky at a Knesset session in early October because of the cuts, with MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) warning that ending the budget would "sever ties between haredim and national religious with one sharp cut." The hareidim, who – unlike the religious-Zionist Bayit Yehudi – are not a part of the current governing coalition, accused Bayit Yehudi of selling them out by allowing the cuts.
In response to hareidi anger, Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett said the cutting of the budget was "a glitch" and promised to take action to regain the lost funding.
MK Slomiansky said that yeshiva students from abroad should all be viewed as contributing to the Zionist enterprise, because they usually stay in Israel after completing the yeshiva studies, and even if they go back abroad, they tend to return to Israel in order to establish their own families.
Finance Minister Lapid's party was elected on a platform that is generally perceived as anti-hareidi, and has made a point of slashing yeshiva budgets and forcing hareidim to serve in the military. The political alliance between Bennett and Lapid that made the present governing coalition possible has caused great anger in the hareidi camp.