Labor vows to fight income support for yeshiva students

Party dismisses change to bill by which unemployed university students with at least 3 kids would also receive stipend: "It's merely a trick."

young haredis studying 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
young haredis studying 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Labor Party on Monday vowed to lead the fight against a new bill which proposes to reinstate stipends for students studying Torah full time.
"The party is united in the opinion that both the state and the yeshiva students themselves would be better off if they joined the work force. The proposed solution that would offer [university] students equal conditions is merely a trick, which we will not accept," a Labor Party statement read.
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Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Sunday declared his support for the proposed income support primarily targeted toward haredi kollel students. The bill in question would also apply to non-haredi, unemployed university students with at least three kids who also do not own their own vehicle.
"We have no objection that [university] students will also receive the benefit. Anyone who would propose otherwise is behaving in a discriminatory way," said Yishai. "The entire goal [of the bill] is to provide support to the tens of thousands of children living below the poverty lin and to close [social] gaps."
Yishai added, "We do not object that every student who studies should receive the benefit. Anyone who would say otherwise speaks out of hatred and to incite."
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday decided to form a committee of experts to advise the government concerning the effects of the new income support bill.
Referring to the bill, Netanyahu said, "There is a situation here that prevailed for 30 years regarding income assurance for ultra-orthodox yeshiva students; this is not new.  It existed under all governments, including those of Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Ariel Sharon, the Kadima government and also my government.  We have been asked by the High Court of Justice to address this issue.  We were told – and I would like to be precise with the High Court's words – you cannot continue with this arrangement without legislation.  Therefore, legislation is called for.
"The new thing that we are trying to do, at this opportunity, is that if we are already legislating on the matter, is to include provisions that would encourage the ultra-orthodox public, ultra-orthodox yeshiva students, to integrate into the workforce," the prime minister said.