A Jewish Home party member has expressed remorse over the damage done to the Torah community by the governing coalition, of which his party is a central partner. After five months during which Finance Minister Yair Lapid succeeded in passing a budget that reflects his agenda, the MK said that he and colleagues intend to do something about it.
“Joining the Netanyahu government coalition by excluding the chareidi parties was a mistake,” declared Jewish Home MK Motti Yogev. “We need a different coalition.”
Yogev says he intends to make the utmost effort in the coming days to put an end to incitement against the chareidim.
“Even as the government was formed, we tried to prevent it, but we didn’t succeed,” he said. “The truth is, we never dreamed that what happened would happen. Yesh Atid pushed us into a corner…”
“We tried repeatedly in party meetings to propose a different coalition, but perhaps not enough … The Torah world has been harmed,” he admitted.
Yogev said the drastic cuts to yeshivah funding has forced the painful reassessment. Yogev was one of four Jewish Home MKs who had said they would vote against the budget if the steep cuts to the Torah world were not reduced. Ultimately, all Jewish Home MKs voted for the budget, enabling it to pass. Now, Yogev complains bitterly, “They told us ‘It will be okay, it will undergo changes,’ but nothing was changed.”
A Jewish Home meeting is scheduled for Thursday, but Yogev is considering urging that it be pushed forward because of the urgency of the issues.
It is unclear how many of Yogev’s colleagues share his views on the composition of the coalition. Yogev, an alumnus of Yeshivat Har Hamor, is considered part of the Torani wing of the National Religious sector.
Yogev’s comments came after the newspaper Besheva, a National Religious weekly, ran a series of articles under the headline “Twelve Mandates and the Yeshivah World is Collapsing.”
The articles featured public figures and Roshei Yeshivah from the sector complaining bitterly that despite their party being a central pillar in the coalition, they have failed to influence the government’s agenda.
MK Nissan Slomianski, the chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, who had the power to change the budget but chose to pass it as it presented by Lapid, responded to the many complaints in an interview with Arutz Sheva.
He explained that there is a limit to what his party — as the sole religious party in the coalition — can do when such a large party as Lapid’s demands that financial assistance to the Torah world be slashed. He doesn’t mention that the reason the chareidi parties are out of the government is that Jewish Home stipulated that Lapid be a member of the coalition, and Lapid vetoed any chareidim joining. In this way, it was Jewish Home that ensured it would be the only religious party.
Jewish Home joined the coalition promising repeatedly to protect the Torah world — in the meantime with no success.
Slomianski claims that there is an agreement to transfer an additional NIS 130 million in order to minimize the effect of the cuts. Of that sum, NIS 65 million is to come from coalition funds promised to Jewish Home, while the other NIS 65 million is ostensibly coming from the treasury for the National Religious yeshivos. [According to Slomianski’s figures, students in National Religious yeshivos make up seven percent of the total, yet they are slated to get half of this funding.]
However, none of the NIS 130 million has yet been transferred. “I was told that last week a delay was discovered at the Finance Ministry; it is unclear what the reason for the delay is. Minister Bennett is dealing with it,” he says.