The heated controversy and the surprising admission: During a government meeting, MK Benny Gantz admitted that the haredi teachers’ budget is negligible compared to the war budget, but "it is important that justice be seen", as he put it.
After the governor and the professionals reviewed the proposed war budget, MK Benny Gantz chose to refer to the “Ofek Hadash” budget, which seeks to compare the conditions of teachers in haredi education to teachers in the general education.
"More cuts should have been made," Gantz told the government ministers. "You haven’t cut enough. There is not enough of a message to the public. NIS 35 million should have been cut - the Ofek Hadash budget.
Health Minister Uriel Buso hushed him: "You are running a campaign that is taking advantage of us. NIS 35 million will not change the budget balance."
In response, Gantz admitted that his insistence is political and not based on an economic motive. "True, it won't change. But we also need visibility. And for justice to be seen," he said.
Minister in the Ministry of Education Haim Biton responded: "There is a process that has started, that has been launched. Give teachers advance payments that will compare the status of the haredi parents and teachers with the rest of the teachers and parents in the general education. You are using the war as a tool to stop the process because you are against us."
Shasha-Biton: Are we against you? Am I against haredim? As the Minister of Education, I suggested a program that increases the budget according to the scope of the core studies, but you canceled it, because supervision and core are not suitable for you.
“Ofek Hadash” is a total concept with clear rules and not just a salary increase, and you are not there. The story is not just this but also other coalition funds and with the way it is going it looks like political dealings under the auspices of the war.
"When they discussed coalition funds, which are important for the war, I said, and Sa'ar also said, we proposed to reset the coalition budget and give from it everything related to the war effort. We also suggested that institutions that have been receiving a coalition budget for many years, such as boarding schools, preparatory schools and youth movements, should continue to transfer, but discretion should be exercised."
At this point, Likud ministers intervened: "You talk about education, but we are dealing with a war budget, NIS 30 billion versus NIS 30 million."
Deputy Minister Uri Maklev attacked: "You are defaming the haredi education system"
Whereas Minister Amsalem spoke harshly and turned to Minister Gideon Sa'ar: "Because you are in the national camp and joining the campaign, they will say that the haredim are blood suckers."
Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed with the position of the ministers of the national camp and said that this is a small percentage of the total war budget. "We are transferring a budget of 30 billion shekels for the war, you are dealing with 35 million. This is a fraction of the budget."
Minister Goldknopf noted that "all these funds should be at the base of the budget and not be offered as coalition funds".
More confrontations were heard between the Minister of Education Kisch and the Budget Division of the Ministry of Finance.
He harshly criticized them: "You are completely irresponsible. Their conduct is irresponsible. You are preventing the education system from functioning during the war. Instead of releasing budgets at a time of emergency, you are freezing my budgets and this is hurting Israeli students."
"I am dealing with an emergency situation. With students from Gaza, from the south and the north who are staying in hotels. Not only are you not helping me - you are also hindering me."
He then looked at the budget reviewer at the Ministry of Finance in the eye and said: "All you are interested in is freezing the Ofek Hadash from the haredim, nothing else interests you.
Kisch added that the Treasury’s opposition is happening despite the fact that "it is clear that those who do not take the “standardization” test will not be in the program".
Upon hearing Kisch’s statement, the head of the budget department, Yogev Gardos rejoiced: "Good, that's what's important. The last sentence you said - that's important - whoever doesn't do the test won't be in Ofek Hadash.
Furious at what he perceived as confirmation of his claim, Kisch stood up and pounded on the table with undisguised fury. "That's what's important now? We're at war in the education system and all that matters to you is NIS 35 million for Ofek hadash."