Budget Includes Allowances for Yeshiva Students

The Knesset was scheduled to vote late last night on the first reading of the 2011-2012 state budget and the Economic Arrangements Law.

The budget bill includes NIS 111 million to fund allowances for married yeshiva students - which raised an uproar over the weekend. The allowances had been banned by the High Court of Justice, on the grounds of impaired equality. When word came out on Friday that the Knesset was looking to circumvent the court by ensconcing the allowances in law, there was a public outcry.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he was appointing a committee to examine the issue, headed by Prime Minister's Office Director General Eyal Gabbai. The committee is supposed to submit its recommendations in two weeks. Only then would the vote on the so-called yeshiva bill be held.

Also yesterday, bills that would extend the mandate of the Wisconsin welfare-to-work program and would reform the Israel Broadcasting Authority passed their first reading. "We're in [the midst of] an unprecedented global crisis. In unusual times, unusual measures and original thinking are called for," Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told the Knesset yesterday as he presented the proposed budget.