On the 24th of Cheshvan, a meeting of the religious lobby was
held in the Knesset. At the meeting it was decided that all
religious parties would fully cooperate in votes on the
budget which are slated to take place in the Knesset
committees and plenum. It was also decided that a delegation
from the religious lobby will soon meet with the Finance
Chairman of the lobby Rabbi Shmuel Halpert presented
startling data about the proposed budget cuts. The sword of
the budget cuts cut deeply in all of the religious and
chareidi clauses and throughout all government ministries. As
examples, Rabbi Halpert noted large cuts in the budgets of
the yeshivos, Chinuch Atzmai, Torah-culture activities, the
Maayan Hachinuch HaTorani network, rental apartments and
others. He then mentioned two other problems: a new
injunction which states that budgets will not be allotted to
institutions during their first two years of operation, and
the canceling of rent subsidies and local grants in Elad-
Mazor and Kiryat Sefer.
Minister of Labor and Welfare Eli Yishai presented a report
about expected cuts in his ministry, and suggested ways of
Zevulun Orlev reported on the cuts in Mafdal-related
institutions and on his efforts to oppose them.
Rabbi Moshe Gafni reported on the struggle in the Finance
Committee and on the cooperation among its religious members.
Deputy Education Minister Meshulem Nahari warned about the
shocking deprivation in the chareidi school dormitories as
compared with dormitories in the secular sector. This has
occurred, he said, even though the vocational department in
the Education Ministry has validated the fact that such
deprivation has been taking place for a number of years.
The Chairman of the Religious Lobby told the participants
that past experience has shown that if the religious parties
remain united during budget struggles, significant
achievements are possible. Rabbi Halpert proposed the
election of a smaller committee to include representatives of
all religious parties, with the goal of meeting in the near
future with the Finance Minister. This committee will
formulate a document detailing all its demands.