Israeli Religious Parties Lose Coalition Perk, but Get Extra Yeshiva Funding

Habayit Hayehudi, Shas and United Torah Judaism forced to forgo extra allocation.

Zvi Zrahiya
Zvi Zrahiya
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Two of the ultra-Orthodox coalition members in the Knesset as Israel's 34th government was sworn in on May 14, 2015.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Zvi Zrahiya
Zvi Zrahiya

Three parties to the current governing coalition that was formed in May, Habayit Hayehudi, United Torah Judaism and Shas, have been forced to forgo a provision in the coalition agreement that would have granted each of their 21 Knesset members personal discretion over the allocation of 20 million shekels ($5.3 million). The change will save 420 million shekels for the state’s coffers.

The Finance Ministry demanded that the spending provision, which generated widespread public criticism, be dropped due to the tight constraints in developing a budget for this year and next. No budget was passed for this year due to disagreements in the prior coalition, which led to the March elections.

Some of the sting of forgoing the allocations is being removed, however, for ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism, and for Habayit Hayehudi, which grew out of the National Religious Party, as funding for yeshivas is almost doubling this year. In addition, based on a cabinet resolution passed last week, on Sunday the Finance Ministry informed the three parties, as well as Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party, that a one-time allocation of 1.1 billion shekels this year and 2.5 billion next year will be made for needs set by the parties. The factions have been told to submit their recommendations by Tuesday.

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