'Free education only for those who serve in IDF'

Israel Beiteinu to vote against PM's planned budget cuts to fund free education from age three, Lieberman says.

FM Liberman speaks during Yisrael Beitenu meeting_311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
FM Liberman speaks during Yisrael Beitenu meeting_311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Friday spoke out in support of free early childhood education, but against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's plans to cut other ministries' budgets to fund them.
Speaking at Israel Beiteinu headquarters in Jerusalem, Lieberman said he "enthusiastically supports" free education for all children from age six months and daycare until four every afternoon.
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However, he added, the new policy should apply to families in which both parents work and served in the army, so that they can 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."
At 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.
Lieberman suggested that ministries' budgetary surpluses be used to fund early childhood education, instead of transferring them to defense expenses.