Haredi Parties Seek to Block Yeshiva Budget Cut

A government proposal calls for trimming yeshiva budgets by NIS 314.4 million, half of which to be cut immediately.

Religious parties in the coalition are objecting to the government's proposal to cut ministerial budgets and promised funding for coalition partners, in order to shift money to defense and health.

Ultra-Orthodox sources said yesterday that Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni, of United Torah Judaism, and Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who chairs Shas, would not support cutting yeshiva budgets, and may offer their own amendments to the proposal.

The proposal calls for trimming yeshiva budgets by NIS 314.4 million - half of that immediately, and half in 2010. Half of the sum cut, NIS 157 million, would be reinstated in 2011.

In addition, NIS 62 million would be cut from funding promised to Shas under the coalition agreement, United Torah Judaism would get NIS 48 million less, Labor would lose NIS 201 million, Yisrael Beiteinu would lose NIS 70.5 million, and Habayit Hayehudi would lose NIS 28 million.

The NIS 2 billion budget cut is scheduled to be submitted to the government this morning.

Gafni voiced his objections to Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz. The two discussed alternatives to cutting yeshiva and education budgets, and agreed to meet with the Finance Ministry's budgets supervisor, Udi Nissan.

Deputy Health Minister MK Yaakov Litzman called Netanyahu's attention to the coalition agreement, which specifies that across-the-board budget cuts would not apply to coalition promises. Litzman agreed with Gafni to try to block the proposal in the Finance Committee.

United Torah Judaism Chairman Eliezer Moses announced that his party would object to cutting the education budget.