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Education Minister Yuli Tamir (Labor) and former ministry director general MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima) exchanged heated words at yesterday's Knesset Education Committee meeting.

"I'm sitting down, listening to Israel Teachers Union Secretary General Yossi Wasserman, and suddenly the minister of education, a university professor, says I'm a piece of shit," Tirosh related. She asked committee chair MK Michael Melchior to rebuke Tamir for her comment.

Tamir denied Tirosh's accusation and said she had actually said, "I'm still cleaning up the garbage and the shit that you all left behind in the education system. Unfortunately I'm still clearing out all the budget cuts and all the injustices."

The argument took place during a discussion of the planned education reforms called New Horizon.

After the meeting Tamir added, "there's a limit to my patience. Tirosh's opposition to the reform is politically motivated. Throughout the discussion in the committee she presented deceptive documents and skewed data, and now she's trying to thwart the important process of reform."

Melchior tried to impose calm and said he was "disgusted" by the tone of the debate. "That's not the way of the Education Committee and it's not the way for the Knesset to serve as an example for Israel's children."

The exchange between Tamir and Tirosh was just one of many in which supporters and detractors of New Horizon traded blame in yesterday's meeting.

Tamir told the committee that 444 schools had signed up for the reform plan so far and over 100 more want to do so. But teachers spoke of being pressured to join the program despite their objections.