MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni spoke out against the distribution of
various budget cuts during a Knesset Finance Committee,
saying "the whole cut is a blow to the weak."
The committee meeting was convened to approve NIS 1.8 billion
($410 million) in budget cuts at various ministries in order
to increase the defense budget. Some MKs wanted to summon the
Defense Minister and Finance Minister and even their
respective directors to receive explanations on the cuts
MK Gafni claimed that not a single paragraph that touches on
religious issues was not slashed far beyond the budgets for
parallel issues unrelated to religion. Later he cited
numerous examples to prove religious affairs were
deliberately and callously slashed.
The religious councils budget, for instance, was cut by NIS
15 million ($3.4 million), while the local councils were not
cut but granted an additional NIS 100 million ($23 million)
in funding. The Rabbinate botei din lost NIS 1.2
million of their NIS 105 million in funding (1.1 percent)
while the secular courts lost NIS 4 million of their NIS 919-
million budget (0.4 percent).
Both the primary schools in the general education system and
the chareidi system had the same NIS 5 million cut, but the
budget for the former is almost five times the budget
allotted for chareidi schools.
The NIS 7 billion budgeted for higher education was cut by
NIS 40 million (0.6 percent) while the NIS 500 million
budgeted for yeshivas was reduced by NIS 28 million (5.6
Rabbi Gafni said these examples demonstrate that all
religious issues were subject to attack by the Finance
Ministry and the entire government. "And I can't understand
where the Shas ministers were? How could they pass such a cut
in the government?" he demanded.
"Were this an across-the-board cut as claimed, why this
discrimination? And how could they allow the execution of
such a large cut in religious services budgets? Where was
Minister Yitzchak Cohen? Now all of the recovery programs
planned for the religious councils will be harmed and again
there will be difficulties paying the workers."