Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

25 Sivan 5762 - June 5, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











"20,000 Families and 100,000 Children Could be Added to the Cycle of Poverty"; Surprise Labor Change
by Eliezer Rauchberger

"Twenty thousand families and some 100,000 children could be added to the cycle of poverty. Children's allowances will lose 21 percent to 37 percent of their purchasing power," warned Bituach Leumi Director-General Professor Yochanan Shtesman during a meeting of the special Knesset committee preparing the budget-cuts program in advance of second and third readings. Meanwhile, Labor abruptly reversed its position and rescinded support for differential cuts for those who had and had not served in the army, citing a party commitment taken over five years ago not to allow differential considerations from the State.

Shtesman noted that not updating allowances linked to the average national wage--and instead imposing a 4 percent cut of all Bituach Leumi allowances and a 24 percent cut for children's allowances to parents who did not serve in the IDF -- will lead to a NIS 2.3-2.4 billion ($500 million) reduction in allowances in 2002 and NIS 5-5.2 billion ($1 billion) in 2003. The brunt of the budget cuts would fall on the bottom 40 percentile, which he says will bear 60 percent of the reduction.

The special committee, headed by MK Shiri Weitzman (Labor), began deliberations earlier this week on the various articles of the budget-slashing plan. Finance Minister Silvan Shalom is pressuring the committee to complete the plan this week for second and third readings in order to ready it for final approval in a Knesset plenum at the beginning of next week, but Knesset sources say there is no certainty the plan will be approved this week and deliberations could extend until the end of next week.

On Monday, the Knesset approved laws for including mikvehs in new developments. Plans for the establishment of mikvo'os are required in order to receive a building permit for religious residential developments, according to the new law, approved yesterday.

Another law was approved that gives local authorities the right to order the closure of bars and restaurants on Tisha B'Av. The law was advanced after the Tel Aviv Municipality ruled last year that the law only enabled the closure of theaters and places of entertainment.

Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz called for a no-confidence vote on the mikvo'os law, saying that it was a violation of the status quo guaranteed under the coalition agreement. This would have required a delay of more than a week.

However, Communications Minister MK Ruby Rivlin called for it to be a confidence vote, meaning that it could be dealt with immediately. The law was approved in a 31-22 vote. Several Labor MKs voted against the law.

Rivlin said the original intention was to include mikvehs, but a court had ruled that there is a loophole in the law that does not include them among public facilities and the matter should be rectified.

MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said that steps should be taken against those Labor MKs who voted against the government. Among those who voted against the government is MK Shiri Weitzman, who is now head of the special parliamentary committee to approve the new budget law.

On Monday (24 Sivan) morning, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon informed UTJ's Knesset members that he wanted them to clarify their position on the economic program within an hour. UTJ's members were then told that if support the economic program, the Prime Minister would return of Rabbi Avraham Ravitz and of Rabbi Meir Porush to their positions as deputy ministers that very day, along with the return to of Shas' representatives to their respective positions. It was also made clear that if the party did not support the economic plan, Rabbi Litzman would be dismissed from his position as the head of the Knesset Finance Committee.

At UTJ's subsequent meeting, its Knesset members raised various possibilities for handling the situation, and the position of the gedolei haTorah was presented. Afterward it was decided not to respond to the Prime Minister's ultimatum at that stage with a final answer, but rather to continue to conduct negotiations on the issue.

When Labor's position against differentiation in the Children's Allotments became known, UTJ's representatives deferred their deliberations on the issue to see how things develop.


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