Haredim take part in a protest in Mea She’arim against the municipality opening a nearby road on Shabbat..
(photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)
Following pressure from haredi party United Torah Judaism, Education Minister Naftali Bennett has reportedly agreed to draft and advance a government bill that will abolish the requirement for haredi boys schools to teach core curriculum studies.
An official for Bennett said, however, that there was no agreement yet to advance a government bill, but that the issue would be discussed within the coalition before further steps are taken.
The current law conditioning the size of the budget received by a particular institution from the Education Ministry on the teaching of at least 11 hours per week of English, math and science was passed during the last government on the insistence of Yesh Atid, although it was never properly enforced.
The law was supposed to reduce the funding of what are known as “exempt institutions” and “other recognized but unofficial” schools, which the majority of male haredi pupils attend for their elementary education, from 55 percent and 75%, respectively, to just 30%.
In practice these penalties were not enacted, due to legal problems that were raised and due to the lack of teachers and inspectors for the haredi schools to implement the law.
UTJ nevertheless insisted in its coalition agreement with the Likud that the law be repealed, owing to the possible future threat that the law could be enforced.
Senior UTJ MK Moshe Gafni and Shas MK Ya’acov Margi recently proposed a private bill that would grant the education minister the right to exempt any institution he wished from the requirement to teach the core curriculum subjects.
Bennett objected to this formulation, but according to a report in the B’hadrei Haredim news website, Gafni, along with Margi, who serves as chairman of the Knesset Education Committee, came to an agreement on Wednesday in which they would withdraw their bill and Bennett would draft a government bill annulling the previous law.
Bennett’s office confirmed that Gafni and Margi had withdrawn their bill, but it insisted that there is no decision as yet to advance a government bill abolishing the core curriculum requirements.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post
on Wednesday, a representative of Margi insisted that the agreement reached on Wednesday between the two sides was that Gafni and Margi would withdraw their bill in exchange for a government bill being drawn up and advanced “within a reasonable time.”
Sources in Shas said that if this did not happen within two or three weeks, Gafni and Margi would reintroduce their private bill.