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The High Court of Justice told the Education Ministry yesterday to respond within 60 days to a petition demanding it enforce the core curriculum in ultra-Orthodox schools.

The petition, submitted by the Israel Religious Action Center and the Association of Secondary School Teachers, also demands the ministry cease funding schools that do not teach required subjects.

The High Court, however, has allowed for funding to continue at ultra-Orthodox institutions until the next hearing in mid-October.

Three years ago the High Court ordered the state to stop funding, as of this school year, to schools that do not teach the core curriculum. The Education Ministry told the court it intended to allow ultra-Orthodox boys' high schools a two-year exemption from compliance and to provide 55 percent of the funding.

According to IRAC attorney Sigal Pail, the Education Ministry proposal constitutes "a sharp change in the legal situation, by which funding for all educational institutions was conditioned on teaching the core curriculum."

Education Minister Yuli Tamir said "the justices understand that this is a complex process that cannot be done hastily. The temporary two-year exemption encourages such dialogue, since it means that the matter has not gone off the agenda."