Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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24 Adar I 5760 - March 1, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Knesset Approves UTJ Law for Torah Study in State Schools

by Eliezer Rauchberger

For the first time since the announcement of their resignation from the government, UTJ's Knesset representatives participated in a confidence vote on the Prime Minister. This occurred during the vote on the State Education Law, and the approval of Rabbi Shmuel Halpert's amendment to it. Yossi Paritzki (Shinui) sought to transform the vote into a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minster, while the Infrastructure Minster, Eli Suissa sought to vote for it, as an expression of confidence in the Prime minister.

Last Tuesday (16 Adar I) at a second and third reading, the Knesset approved the proposal for major changes in the State Education Law. The changes initiated by Amnon Rubinstein (Meretz) and other members of the Knesset committee, were meant to define the purposes of education in the State of Israel. Among other things, the new bill said that the education comes to inculcate the principles of the State of Israel, the idea of striving for peace and tolerance, the need to teach Jewish history, and explain the Nation's legacy and tradition, as well as the need to develop the child's personality.

Rabbi Shmuel Halpert sought to add a clause regarding the obligation to teach Torah. However, members of the committee refused to comply with this request. As a result, Rabbi Halpert presented a proposal for an amendment to the law to the Knesset plenum. Tuesday, when the proposed law was brought to a vote, his amendment was accepted by a majority of those present which consisted of 16 supporters with 8 opposed. Among the supporters were representatives of UTJ, Shas, Mafdal, Likud and Benny Alon from the Ichud Haleumi. The opponents were from Shinui, Meretz, Yisrael Achat and the Arab parties.

In the wake of the approval of the reservations and the announcement of the chairman of the Education Committee, Zevulun Orlev (Mafdal) that he wanted to approve the law for its final reading, including the amendment, Yossi Paritzki of Shinui sought to transform the vote into a proposal of no- confidence in the Prime Minister. This is a very commonly- used delaying tactic since, according to the Knesset regulations, this would automatically postpone the vote until the following week. The Infrastructure Minster, Eli Suissa, who was present as the government's representative, announced that he sought to regard the vote as one of confidence in the Prime Minister. This is a common reply to motions of no- confidence since, in that case, Knesset regulations say that the request to express confidence overrules that for a no- confidence vote, and that the vote must be held right away.

In the vote over the third and final reading, the proposal -- including the Rabbi Halpert's amendment -- received a majority of 20 supporters from the religious parties, as well as from the Ichud Haleumi and Yisrael Achat, Likud and even of Vilan of Meretz. Only Yossi Paritzki of Shinui was opposed, as the other members of Shinui did not participate in the vote. The original proposer of the law, Amnon Rubinstein, also did not participate in the vote.

The victory may not effect any long-term changes as opponents are likely to repeal the change in the near future. Moreover, the Education Ministry, which would have to implement the law, is in the hands of Meretz which is hostile to Torah.

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