United Torah Jewry strongly objected early this week to the
Knesset Finance Minister's withdrawal of a request for the
transfer of NIS 32 million ($7 million) in funding for the
"The deliberations surrounding this transfer have already
gone on for five months since the Attorney General demanded
the issue be evaluated," read a special statement issued by
UTJ, "and despite his approval, once again the deliberations
have been postponed because the Finance Minister withdrew the
request from the Knesset committee."
UTJ also protested the withholding of NIS 28 million ($6
million) in funding for dormitory facilities out of the total
of NIS 67 million ($15 million) earmarked by the Welfare
The party objected to the fact that "Minister Orlev has again
directed his ministry's officials not to appear at meetings
of the Knesset Committee for Public Inquiry to discuss the
topic. The United Torah Jewry party sees this as causing
serious harm to the yeshivas and the Torah world, and as part
of the continued policy of the current government against
Torah institutions and the religious sector's institutions in
The Knesset Finance Committee was again blasted by the
chareidi representatives after tempers flared again on Monday
because the transfer of NIS 32 million for the yeshiva budget
did not receive approval.
MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni lodged harsh criticism against Finance
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu saying he "is capitulating to
Shinui and has turned into a Shinui branch office." MK Rabbi
Yaakov Litzman announced he would "blast every [Finance]
Committee meeting until the money for the yeshivas is
According to press reports, the Finance Ministry was prepared
to approve the transfer to chareidi institutions until the
leader of the Shinui party intervened.
Last week Finance Committee Chairman MK Avraham Hirshzon
(Likud) closed the committee meeting after the request was
withdrawn and the chareidi Knesset members denounced the
committee for delaying approval of the transfer for several
During this meeting it was revealed that the Finance Ministry
has also withdrawn the request, and thus there was no longer
any transfer request awaiting committee approval.
As the committee was about to discuss the budget transfers on
Monday, MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman said he would not allow any
budget transfer to be approved without first approving the
transfer of the NIS 32 million to the yeshivas. "I'm willing
to go to jail. Let the Knesset Guard come here and remove me.
I don't care. I will not allow any budget transfer to be
approved until they approve the transfer of the NIS 32
million for the yeshivas. For five months this sum has been
delayed in the committee. At first they told us it was a
problem that required the opinion of the Attorney General,
but last week the Attorney General's office announced the
budget transfer could be approved, and then the cat was let
out of the bag. Suddenly the Finance [Ministry] withdrew [the
request] for the budget transfer. This is not a matter of
getting an opinion or of the committee.
"From now on I will disturb every meeting of the committee,"
he continued. "I don't care, even if you bring in the police
or the Knesset Guard. What affects the yeshivas for basic
necessities must pass in the committee. And if not, no other
request will pass here."
MK Roni Brizon (Shinui), who is responsible for the delay,
called out, "The yeshivas got NIS 500 million. That's more
His remark drew shouts from the chareidi Knesset members and
Rabbi Litzman called out, "This is political terrorism by
Shinui. From now on I will not allow the meeting to be
Afterwards MK Rabbi Gafni said the transfer request is a
request for a professional transfer by the Finance Ministry.
"It was already agreed upon in August 2003, but in December
Finance Minister Netanyahu asked UTJ to wait for approval of
the funding transfer until the beginning of January 2004
because the State budget for 2004 had to be transferred and
Shinui would not give its support if the transfer to the
yeshivas was approved. It now appears to us this was one big
lie. It was all an act. Brizon's letter, the Attorney
General's opinion -- everything is to prevent the transfer of
any money to the yeshivas.
"Yesterday it became apparent Tommy Lapid yelled at Bibi
[telling him] not to transfer the money to the yeshivas, and
Bibi is acting two-faced. To the chareidim he pretends to be
giving them everything while at the same time he is
capitulating to Shinui. He does not recognize the suffering
of talmidei chachomim. He has turned into a branch of
Later, when the committee tried to approve an NIS 15-million
budget for small businesses Rabbi Gafni said, "Shinui is
leading the Likud to the netherworld."
In a related matter, in the Knesset MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz
lodged criticism against the State Comptroller's conduct
toward the chareidi public saying, "The Comptroller hardly
counts this sector. And if he does mention it generally it is
only in a negative context."
Later Ravitz said, "The Comptroller does not respond to the
chareidi public's claims against State institutions. For what
does the Comptroller say when we state claims, for example,
on funding discrimination for transportation or a cut in
classroom hours. He feels no obligation to reply. To him we
are in the State illegally. We are supported. Be grateful for
all you are given."
According to Rabbi Gafni, "The Comptroller says the chareidi
education system received 2,500 classroom hours more than it
was budgeted. But he does not ask whether what was in the
budget was enough to meet the needs. Furthermore, he puts the
pension budget for the chareidi education system into
classroom hours, not as it is in the general education system
which has a budget for classroom hours and a budget for
In conclusion he called for a change in the fundamental
perspective on matters and the understanding that a chareidi
Jew is entitled to basic minimal subsistence in a dignified
manner within Israeli society.