The Knesset Education Committee began holding meetings to
prepare the law to provide chareidi institutions equal
funding from the local authorities for second and third
The committee received proposals by MKs Rabbi Ravitz and
Rabbi Gafni, which were approved in a preliminary reading,
and also the government's proposal which was approved in a
first reading last week. The plan is to combine the three
proposals into one and to bring the combined proposal for a
The legislation being hammered out would require the local
authorities to provide chareidi schools exactly the same
funding that government schools receive.
During Monday's committee meeting Amnon de Hartoch, who
serves as support payments commissioner at the Justice
Ministry, tried to keep the funding for chareidi education as
support payments rather than as part of regular budgets, but
the chareidi MKs present lodged staunch opposition, saying
the support payments could still be given through the local
authority's support committee without any special
legislation. The administrative rulings of de Hartoch (who is
religious) set off the current legislation since he raised
difficulties in the funding that local authorities provided
for religious schools under the old system that had been
functioning for decades.
Only after speaking on the phone with the Attorney General
did de Hartoch agree to provide funding for chareidi schools
through regular budget channels.
The high-pitched meeting was riddled with arguments over
various clauses surrounding the law, but eventually the
committee's legal advisor was asked to draft the law for
final approval in such a way that it would be clearly
identified as full funding, explicitly calling for coverage
of all needs of the chareidi education system, including
secretaries, cleaning services, electricity, etc.
A demand was also made to make the law extend to talmudei
Torah rather than just "recognized but unofficial"
schools. The discussion surrounding this demand is scheduled
to resume at the next committee meeting.