PM Binyamin Netanyahu and FM Avigdor Lieberman 311 (R).
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Foreign Minister Avigdor
Lieberman Saturday night in an attempt to persuade him to support budget
cuts to government ministries, designed to fund free early childhood education. During the
meeting, Lieberman reportedly reiterated that he will vote against the
prime minister's proposal if it is brought to a ministerial vote on
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Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's Office said that the cabinet was unlikely to vote on the planned budget
cuts on Sunday, Army Radio reported Saturday night. Government officials said
that the issue would not be decided upon in one meeting, and would
likely require further discussion, according to the report.
Lieberman first expressed his position on Friday, speaking at at Israel
Beiteinu headquarters in Jerusalem. He said that while he supports free
education for all children from age six months, he believes that the policy
should only apply to families in which both parents work and served in
the army. He explained that people can in this way pay for the education
via taxes and their service to the country.
"A state's power is not
only measured by its advanced weaponry, but also by its soldiers'
motivation, so they know that the state will take care of them after
they serve," Lieberman told his party's municipal committee. "Our goal
should be to alleviate the burden on those who served in the army and
pay taxes, and carry all of [the country's] weight on their backs."
the same time, the Foreign Minister said, the state should not fund
"extremist groups" such as Islamic Movement supporters or
anti-government haredi groups such as Sikrikim and Neturei Karta.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that the defense budget would be cut
, along with those of all other ministries, in order to fund free education from age three.
Lieberman said on Friday that Netanyahu's plan is "insufficiently level-headed and examined, and was made haphazardly."
"The easiest thing to do is to cut all of the ministries, and take from
health, welfare and public security, but in that way, many citizens will
be harmed," he explained.
Israel Beiteinu ministers plan to vote
against the prime minister's proposal, when it is brought to a
ministerial vote on Sunday, and bring their own, alternative plan.
suggested that ministries' budgetary surpluses be used to fund early
childhood education, instead of transferring them to defense expenses.Lahav Harkov contributed to this report