The cabinet today approved a plan that would extend yeshiva students allowances by at least five years. Fourteen ministers voted in favor of the plan, including the ministers from Yisrael Beiteinu. The Labor Party ministers were among the eight who opposed the plan. Shas ministers abstained from the vote.
Earlier, during a Likud party ministers’ meeting, Gideon Saar, Gilad Erdan and Limor Livnat came out against the charedi yeshiva student allowance plan. The three were joined by Minisiter Yisrael Katz, who said that whatever the outcome, the Likud will lose. He warned that the Likud was “losing the public.”
Minister Silvan Shalom called for the student budget to be increased and stated that a situation where charedi yeshiva students received government funds but students didn’t was untenable.
Education Minister Saar told the Likud meeting, “The decision that will be implemented in five years doesn’t affect nearly 90% of the charedi yeshiva students who are over 29 and receive assurance of income.
“I doubt whether the decision would withstand judicial examination, and I fear that we will pay a high price for this decision.”
Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Coalition Chairman Zeev Elkin defended the plan. Netanyahu claims that the plan isn’t perfect but that it “is the maximum that can be achieved. Kadima never addressed the issue and gave the charedim more.”
Steinitz said, “It is saddening that every issue that concerns charedim becomes a public and media argument that borders on hysteria.”
He believes that the law includes a major turnabout: “The charedi population could, until this point, get an allowance for life, now they know in advance that they need to think of employment options within a few years and undergo professional or vocational training.”
The allowance plan drew opposition from other parties as well: Minister for Minority Affairs Avishay Braverman announced before the vote that he would oppose any proposals raised over the assurance of income for charedi yeshiva students.
“The charedim must be brought into the workforce and this isn’t the decision that will make it happen,” he said. “We have no leadership, certainly no courageous leadership. The decision will perpetuate poverty and cause damage for generations to come,” the minister added.
According to the plan, over the next four years, no changes will be made to the funding of married yeshiva students who do not work and have three children. During the fifth year, the allowances for yeshiva students under the age of 29 who meet the allowance criteria, will be decreased by 75%.