"Traitors. You destroyed the country. Where else in the
country is there a situation in which money is not
transferred because of criteria?" MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni
demanded, lashing out at the Likud during a Knesset Finance
Committee meeting over the prolonged delay in funding
transfers for Torah-based culture organizations for the year
2005 by the Education Ministry, which is headed by Minister
Livnat of the Likud Party.
When the meeting—held at the office of Amnon De
Hartoch, the Justice Ministry's commissioner for support
funding criteria— failed to produce results, a second
meeting was scheduled for the next day. Rabbi Gafni noted
that while some parts of the budget have been cut, in the
case of funding for Torah-based culture organizations the
absurdities and distortions cry up to Heaven since the money
is available and the funding has been allocated, yet
officials at various ministries delay the funding transfers.
"One ministry is out of touch with the other and the
distribution of the money does not take place," Rabbi Gafni
roared at the Likud MKs during the committee meeting.
The 2005 budget for Torah culture came to NIS 56 million.
Culture organizations filed a petition over the criteria for
2004, saying the Justice Ministry advisors have yet to
approve new criteria. Education Ministry advisors also
submitted objections to the new criteria and the two entities
failed to reach an agreement.
Following the recent Finance Committee meetings Amnon De
Hartoch met with the Education Ministry's legal advisor but
the two failed to reach an agreement. De Hartoch also
objected to transferring advances to the culture
organizations based on the 2004 criteria, even if all of the
organizations gave their consent, although in a previous
meeting he seemed willing to accept such a proposal.
Cultural organizations are on the brink of collapse due to
the funding delays. Employees have not been paid for months
and regular activities are under severe strain.
This issue was raised in the Knesset plenum as well when MK
Meshulam Nahari submitted a question protesting the
reservations submitted by the Education Ministry's legal
advisors regarding the new criteria, although the Education
Minister supported finalizing criteria that would alleviate
the burden on the culture organizations. He demanded Minister
Livnat place a time restriction on the finalization process
for the new criteria.
MK Chaim Oron (Meretz) also objected to the delays in funding
transfers for Torah cultural organizations calling it "an
example of the government's inability to function." He said
the Finance Committee has been made aware of the major crisis
the organizations face all because of two ministries at odds,
a reference to the Education and Justice Ministries, which
are both headed by Likud ministers. "It cannot be that the
Knesset legislates a law and allocates certain amounts of
money and for six months two government ministries have not
been able to work out the question of how to transfer the
money. This is what it all comes down to," said MK Oron.
Education Minister Livnat said intensive meetings have been
held to finalize the new criteria in order to make the money
available as soon as possible. Meanwhile she claimed the
delay in finalizing the criteria and transferring the funds
to the Torah-based cultural organizations is not the fault of
the Education Ministry but the Justice Ministry, saying the
matter does not depend on the minister but the legal
In response to another questions submitted by MK Nahari she
said the funding for general cultural organizations has not
been delayed and all of the problems there have been
"This does not happen to the general culture
[organizations]," charged MK Gafni. "There is much wrestling
taking place in the government—a real
disgrace—between the Justice Ministry and the Education
Ministry. This could only happen in one sector and this is
being repeated constantly."