Lapid Rescinds Funding for Draft Age Yeshivah Students

YERUSHALAYIM -

Following the High Court decision on Tuesday to suspend funding for yeshivah students whose enlistment had been postponed pending a new law under debate in the Knesset, Finance Minister Yair Lapid ordered on Wednesday that all funding for yeshivos for the month of February be frozen immediately.

A transfer order had already been issued from the Education Ministry earlier on Tuesday, before the court’s ruling was handed down. However, as the transfer was issued after 2 p.m., it was only registered on Wednesday’s business day, enabling the transfer order to be retracted.

Some 2,000 to 3,000 students of draft age affected by the court
ruling will be removed from revised eligibility lists within the next 48 hours, the Finance Ministry said. Funds for all students frozen until those lists are compiled.

Funding for students in national-religious yeshivos that also deferred service because the boys are learning was also stopped on Wednesday despite opposition from Jewish Home.

Party chairman Naftali Bennett had declared to reporters earlier in the day that the funding for February had already been transferred, and that he would see to the passage of a new draft law before next month’s payment was due. To his surprise, his coalition ally Lapid acted quickly to freeze this month’s funds.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Lapid and Communications Minister Yaakov Peri, also from his Yesh Atid party, threatened a coalition crisis if criminal sanctions on those refusing military service is not included in a new draft law.

Speaking on Army Radio, Peri said, “Yesh Atid will cause a coalition crisis if the bill in its final readings won’t require serving, which implies criminal sanctions.”

Otherwise, Peri said, the bill will not be passed by the Knesset.

He failed to note that the coalition agreement that his party signed has no mention of criminal sanctions, only financial sanctions, which Yesh Atid later declared insufficient to garner their support.