Liberman delays cut in daycare subsidies for children of yeshiva students

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A controversial move to end daycare subsidies for children of full-time yeshiva students has been postponed for several months, the finance and economy ministries said on Wednesday.

The policy, which is expected to end subsidies for around 18,000, mostly ultra-Orthodox households, will now come into effect on November 1 rather than September, according to a joint statement from the finance minister. Avigdor Liberman and Minister of the Economy Orna Barbivai.

“The ministers of finance and the economy have decided to give two more months to the education system, the job market and the families themselves to prepare for the decision to change the eligibility criteria for grants for daycares, “the statement read.

This decision was pushed by Treasury chief Liberman, drawing furious criticism from Haredi politicians. Liberman has sought to dampen Haredi political influence and end special government benefits enjoyed by the ultra-Orthodox.

In a separate statement released later Wednesday, the finance ministry said Wednesday’s decision would not change the timing of Liberman’s plans to immediately reallocate NIS 55 million ($ 17 million) of funds from child care subsidies. to efforts against domestic violence.

In total, child care subsidies are estimated to cost the state 1.2 billion shekels ($ 366 million) per year, of which about a third goes to families whose fathers are studying full-time in a religious seminary.

The new conditions for receiving child care subsidies for children up to the age of 3, which Liberman announced last week, will end them for some 21,000 children whose fathers are full-time students in a yeshiva.

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem on July 11, 2021. (Marc Israel Sellem / Pool / Flash90)

The finance minister said the grants will only be awarded if both parents of the child work at least 24 hours a week or are involved in academic or professional studies – but not Torah studies.

Liberman argued that the measures will ultimately benefit the ultra-Orthodox community, even if they anger its leaders, because it will encourage them to join the workforce to receive the grants.

The move by Liberman, who heads the secular right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party, has caused some consternation within the coalition, many of whose members hope the Haredi Shas and United Torah Judaism parties may be tempted to join the coalition to secure their position. continuous access to the state. funds that go towards large-scale grants for their constituents.

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