Yeshiva Budget Cutback to Be Smaller Than Planned

Treasury agrees to reduce cuts by NIS 150 million due to coalition pressure.

The reduction in government aid to yeshivas will be less than half the NIS 260 million originally stated in the 2013 budget, TheMarker has learned.

Finance Ministry officials agreed to roll back the extent of the reduction by about NIS 150 million, in response to pressure over the past several days from Habayit Hayehudi's chairman, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, and Knesset Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky, also of Habayit Hayehudi.

Both sides agreed that the Knesset will approve the 2013-14 budget in its second and third readings next week with the full NIS 260 million spending reduction included. Afterward, however, the Finance Committee will be asked to increase the budget for yeshivas to minimize the harm to both ultra-Orthodox and religious Zionist institutions.

The yeshivas are supposed to be subject to a NIS 227 million cut next year as well, but the Knesset is scheduled to hold a debate about it soon and may reduce it.

The allocation designated for the Arab population will also rise after the budget is approved, by around NIS 30 million to NIS 50 million, at the request of MKs Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) and Issawi Freij (Meretz)

Olivier Fitoussi