Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Sunday declared his support for the proposed income support primarily targeted toward haredi kollel students. The bill in question would also is designed to benefit also apply to non-haredi, unemployed university students with at least three kids who also do not own their own vehicle.
"We have no objection that [university] students will also receive the benefit. Anyone who would propose otherwise is behaving in a discriminatory way," said Yishai. "The entire goal [of the bill] is to provide support to the tens of thousands of children living below the poverty lin and to close [social] gaps."
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Yishai added, "We do not object that every student who studies should receive the benefit. Anyone who would say otherwise speaks out of hatred and to incite."
The vote on the bill that would reinstate stipends for men who study Torah full-time will not take place on Sunday as was previously scheduled, the Prime Minister's Office announced on Saturday.
Instead, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday decided to form a committee of experts to advise the government concerning the effects of the new income support bill.
Referring to the bill, Netanyahu said, "There is a situation here that prevailed for 30 years regarding income assurance for ultra-orthodox yeshiva students; this is not new. It existed under all governments, including those of Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Ariel Sharon, the Kadima government and also my government. We have been asked by the High Court of Justice to address this issue. We were told – and I would like to be precise with the High Court's words – you cannot continue with this arrangement without legislation. Therefore, legislation is called for.
"The new thing that we are trying to do, at this opportunity, is that if we are already legislating on the matter, is to include provisions that would encourage the ultra-orthodox public, ultra-orthodox yeshiva students, to integrate into the workforce," the prime minister said.
He added, "We will establish a team to examine the various changes, within two weeks. Prime Minister's Office Director-General Eyal Gabai will chair the team, which will include National Economic Council Chairman Prof. Eugene Kandel and representatives of the Finance, Education, Justice, and Industry, Trade and Labor ministries, as well as of the National Insurance Institute. The team will also examine the possibility of presenting draft legislation on the issue."
As a result of the prime minister's decision the cabinet vote regarding the bill will be delayed by three weeks.
Meanwhile, United Torah
Judaism head Menahem Eliezer Moses told Israel Radio on Sunday that his party will leave
the coalition if the law proposed by his fellow MK Moshe Gafni isn't passed by the end of the year.