Raising Orthodox budget is 'main task’ for Education Ministry

Israeli MKs, many of whom have been opposed to the religious sector of Israel’s newest coalition government, rallied against Kisch’s comments.

MK Yoav Kisch of the Likud speaks to supporters on Gideon Saar's Likud leadership campaign opening event, in Or Yehuda, Dec 16, 2019.  (photo credit: GILI YAARI/FLASH90)
MK Yoav Kisch of the Likud speaks to supporters on Gideon Saar's Likud leadership campaign opening event, in Or Yehuda, Dec 16, 2019.
(photo credit: GILI YAARI/FLASH90)

Newly-appointed Education Minister Yoav Kisch said increasing the budgets of ultra-orthodox educational institutions was the Education Ministry’s “main task” during a Tuesday hearing in which 170 Israeli mayors and local authority heads voiced their opposition to budget increases for informal education institutions in the ultra-orthodox sector.

Kisch, a Likud MK who joined the Knesset in 2015, became Minister of Education and Minister of Regional Cooperation in December 2022. He rallied against what he called an unjust education system. “There are gaps (in funding) that mayors will have to close. This issue will come to this committee and we will have to find a solution for it.”

"There may be other key tasks but this is one of the most meaningful central tasks in the current budget," Kisch declared.

"Orthodox education is not private education. I want us to come to an agreement, on all issues; I don't want me to be on one side and you on the other," UTJ leader Moshe Gafni declared regarding the proposed new funding.

Opposition from fellow MKs

Other MKs, many of whom have been opposed to the religious sector of Israel’s newest coalition government, rallied against Kisch’s comments.

 FROM LEFT, prospective coalition partners Yitzhak Goldknopf, Bezalel Smotrich, Yoav Kisch and Moshe Gafni in the Knesset plenum this week (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) FROM LEFT, prospective coalition partners Yitzhak Goldknopf, Bezalel Smotrich, Yoav Kisch and Moshe Gafni in the Knesset plenum this week (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Some local authorities "already can’t support themselves, and this will subtract from their budgets,” Haim Bibas, the mayor of Modi’in who had publicly opposed the new funding, said in response. 

“If we don’t do (education equality) broadly, we will inflict damage for which we will have to bear the responsibility,” Bibas said as he explained that independent Arab educational institutions would be left out and neglected if the new rule was to pass.

Former finance minister Avigdor Liberman also contested the new proposed funding measure. “Equal opportunity for every child means first and foremost core curriculum. That’s learning math, English and computers. Where will the money come from?" Liberman asked. 

"Those who prevent equal opportunity are the same people who put them into education systems where there’s no core curriculum,” he declared.