The bill would require local governments to provide 100% subsidies for the haredi school systems.
By REBECCA ANNA STOILPublished: JUNE 29, 2009 00:13Advertisement
The so-called Gafni Law has yet to cross the doorposts of the Knesset, but opposition members are already up at arms to fight it, with MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima) threatening a petition to the High Court of Justice if the bill, which hasn't even passed its first reading, is approved.
Tirosh is vehemently opposed to the legislation, which she says would provide preferential funding to non-state haredi schools run by United Torah Judaism and Shas while disenfranchising other recognized independent school tracks, such as the democratic schools.
The bill would require local governments to provide 100 percent subsidies for the haredi school systems, despite the fact that they do not teach courses required for government-sponsored schools.
"I think that there is unjustified discrimination in local government against haredim," said Tirosh. "As they are citizens they must have equal funding, and there is a place to require the governments to ensure that they are given equal resources."
But Tirosh said that the previously-proposed Nahari Law would satisfy those concerns and also provide 65% funding for the schools, but would also include recognized non-haredi independent tracks.
"My problem with this bill is that only haredi schools would get the funding," explained Tirosh. "This is not equal, that now within the track of recognized non-governmental schools, there would now be a sub-track of schools that receive local government funds and a sub-track of those that do not."
Although the bill, which was discussed on Sunday in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, has broad support throughout the coalition, the Justice Ministry also opposes the initiative. Tirosh argues that the opposition was based on the belief that such legislation would not withstand a High Court test. "If the bill passes the Knesset, I will appeal it to the court."
Tirosh sees an ulterior motive to the coalition's support for the bill, which sponsors MKs Moshe Gafni, Menahem Eliezer Moses and Uri Maklev, all from UTJ, hope to pass in time for the next school year.
"The coalition is trying to pass this bill in an attempt to satisfy Gafni, who is the head of the Finance Committee, because they need him to pass their budget as soon as possible," she said.
Gafni has been a vocal opponent of key clauses of the Economic Arrangements Bill and the 2009/10 state budget, which are slated to pass through his powerful committee in the next two weeks en route to their second and third (final) readings on the house floor.
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