The center-left Blue and White party on Tuesday revealed its education campaign, which promises free daycare for young children - at the expense of the yeshivas, Israel Hayom reported.
Presenting the campaign, MK Hili Tropper (Blue and White) said: "All the research shows a very clear conclusion: Education for young children is the basis of an excellent and equal education system. Massive investments in young children will, in the medium- and long-term, save us a lot of money which is invested at the later stages. After so many years of false promises, we will ensure that the responsibility will finally be transferred to the Education Ministry, and that there will be a quality and equal education system from birth. Less coalition funds will be wasted, and there will be more money for Israel's children."
MK Karin Elharrar, also of Blue and White, said: "It's time for a change of mindset, for the understanding that education must begin in infancy and that the State has the obligation to create an educational continuum from birth to age 18. We must ensure that we build a subsidized educational system that is appropriate and safe and which will provide our children with a full toolbox from infancy. This will allow parents to send their children to an educational setting without worries and without having to choose between a career and their children's education."
"This plan will allow young couples from around the country to join the workforce, and the entire economy will benefit from this. At the end of the day, a large portion of the plan will fund itself," the party's MK Yael German added.
The Blue and White plan calls for an additional 8.5 billion shekels, which will be spread out over the course of five years and gradually transferred to "education" for infants and children ages 0-3 years old.
Funding will be deducted from sector-specific coalition funds," Blue and White told Israel Hayom. "These plans may and indeed will be painful for different sectors, but Blue and White has its priorities. The first priority is in the field of education. The second priority is healthcare."
Daycare for ages three months to three years is heavily subsidized, and government discounts are provided based on income per person and the number of hours a mother works. In the case of same-sex parents, the partners can choose which parent is listed as the mother, making it easier for them to receive the discount.
It is not yet clear if the free education will become mandatory, the way preschool for three- and four-year olds became mandatory six years after the implementation of the "Free Education From Age Three" law.
The law was passed with a section that "education" for children ages three and four would become mandatory within six years, but the section was hidden from the public, and the law was instead touted as one which would save parents thousands of shekels annually.
The law was not immediately enforced after a six-year period, however, and only recently have municipalities begun to interfere when parents choose not to send their young children to preschool or choose to send them to a private instead of public framework.