Kadima slams PM's plan to limit haredi stipend bill

Ben-Eliezer, opposition party criticize Netanyahu's proposal to to limit most kollel student funding to five years.

December 17, 2010 16:09
3 minute read.
Netanyahu speaks in Tirat Carmel, Sunday

Netanyahu serious with flag 311 ap. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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Kadima on Friday accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of lying and "avoiding his responsibilities" in response to his new plan to limit funding for haredi yeshiva students to five years.

"Netanyahu is again lying to the public," the opposition party said in a press release. "The prime minister is avoiding his responsibilities and is giving up the country's values for his personal survival."

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"The government's proposal is entirely false. Netanyahu is deflecting his responsibilities to the next government, is increasing the haredi yeshiva student to NIS 127 million, is increasing the poverty in the haredi sector and is further widening the rift between the students by cutting the funding. Netanyahu should bring the decision for Knesset approval and should not evade public discussion," Kadima said.

Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer also criticized the plan, saying it is the incorrect way to integrate haredim into the business market.

"The decision will in fact perpetuate the disintegration of haredim into the work force, poverty and unemployment in the sector," Eliezer said.

"In the next 5 years there will be no progress and no condition of accepting allowance for existing practical training, and the yeshiva students aged 29 and over, which account for more than 90 percent of yeshiva students in the program, will be unemployed forever," he added.

Earlier Friday, Netanyahu announced he will propose on Sunday a plan to limit funding for haredi yeshiva students to five years.

Netanyahu said: "The purpose of the plan is to balance two central principals: The first is human sensitivity. We are dealing with a very poor population, thousands of families with small children, and we can not cut off their earnings all at once."

"The other principal, which I fully support, is that we can not eternalize poverty," the prime minister explained. "We cannot encourage the current situation to continue. The new arrangement will provide an economic incentive for students to go out and work and improve their economic situation."

"If we show sensitivity to the thousands of poor families, the problem will gradually be solved," Netanyahu said.

According to the plan, which will be brought to a vote in the next cabinet meeting, the number of yeshiva students receiving government stipends would be limited to those with three children, no car and an income of up to NIS 1200.

The plan also allows an additional NIS 50 million to be allocated to aid university students in need. The Prime Minister's Office released a statement saying that the measure fulfills the High Court's requirement of equality, in its June 2010 decision on yeshiva student stipends.

The statement also said that the plan's purpose is to encourage haredi employment and to equally aid students of all kinds.

Funding for kolel students will be limited to NIS 127 million per year. Some will receive the aid for five years, which will consist of NIS 1040 in the first four years, and then 75% of that sum in the fifth year. During that fifth year, the students will be able to work half days and study the other half of the day, and will be expected to be fully employed by the end of the year.

A small amount of students will be "constant students," that may stay in yeshivas without working. The PMO estimates that this will only include 2,000 haredim.

Today, approximately 11,000 students receive government stipends.

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