Lod Mayor Yair Revivo
Lod Mayor Yair RevivoYonatan Sindel/Flash90

In the wake of controversy stirred up by the leak of a draft document outlining demands being made by the United Torah Judaism party (UTJ) in return for joining the coalition, Lod Mayor Yair Revivo has come to the defense of the haredi MKs and explained that their suggestions for energy production are actually timely and relevant.

"I'll give you the scoop: There isn't enough electricity in the country, especially on Shabbat and religious holidays," Revivo said. "It's a shame that those people who usually champion 'green' causes are instead fighting the haredim on this one.

"The ideas UTJ are proposing are good ones, even necessary ones," he added. "The Lod municipality recently published a tender for the construction of an energy storage facility in the Ganei Ayalon neighborhood, where the majority of the population is haredi. This facility will help deal with the grid getting overloaded and resulting power outages, and will also serve those who observe Shabbat -- as well as secular residents who live in the area."

The leaked draft agreement mentions several points, some of which are being misrepresented in the general media. Many of the issues covered are ones that have an appeal beyond the haredi public, such as allowing hospitals to ban people from bringing hametz (leavened food) into hospitals during Pesach (Passover). The overwhelming majority of the population supports such bans, but extremist left-wing elements have consistently fought them.

Other reforms being demanded by UTJ MKs include so-called equal funding for haredi schools. What UTJ is actually requesting is that the current law, which stipulates that schools are funded in accordance with the degree to which they cover the core curriculum, should be implemented. In practice, this has not been occurring for over a decade and haredi schools are receiving billions of shekels less than the law entitles them to.

Prior to November's elections, Netanyahu promised his haredi colleagues that the education budget would be adjusted to conform to the law. Now, however, various elements are arguing that it will be too expensive to keep this promise.