PM attempts to gain FM's support for budget cuts

In night-time meeting, Lieberman reiterates that he'll vote against PM's planned budget cuts to fund free education from age 3.

PM Binyamin Netanyahu and FM Avigdor Lieberman 311 (R) (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
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 Sunday.
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.
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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."
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.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report