MKs Express Outrage Over Budget Cuts to Religious Services

YERUSHALAYIM -
MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni, chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, and MK Rabbi David Azulai, Minister of Religious Affairs, during the meeting of the Finance Committee, this morning. (Knesset Speaker)
MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni, chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, and MK Rabbi David Azulai, Minister of Religious Affairs, during the meeting of the Finance Committee, this morning. (Knesset Speaker)

Members of Knesset from UTJ and Shas strongly criticized a plan to significantly cut funding to Religious services ministry.

“We will  freeze the budget of the Ministry of Justice, and delay budgetary requests” declared the Chairman of the Finance Committee, MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (UTJ) and other committee members following the presentation of The Religious Services Ministry budget for 2015-6.

“The budget prevents religious services and then there is complaints about the poor service level,” Rabbi Gafni charged. “The government refuses to properly fund the ministry, although most citizens — including non-religious ones have an interest in these services,”

Minister for Religious Affairs, David Azoulai (Shas) spoke of his pain regarding funding shortfalls.

“The ministry’s budget does not allow the provision of religious services in a respectable fashion.  Traveling around the country, I discovered that I am unable to aid with renovation or construction of synagogues, of mikvaos, of batei din, and cemeteries…. The conditions and wages of the employees of religious councils are appalling, they are the lowest salaries in the public sector,” the minister said.

“Most of the holy sites that are the most important tourist sites in Israel, are neglected or underfunded,” he added.