Despite the cuts in the newly approved state budget, ministers and MKs for Jewish Home were able to preserve funds for Religious Zionist causes, said Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel. Among the achievements: Preserving and even increasing the number of posts in the National Service program, and increasing funding for families from Gush Katif who are still awaiting resettlement.
“For the first time we were able to secure funding for an agency to manage 'garin' programs,” in which small groups enter communities in an organized manner in order to accomplish important social goals. Among those groups are the Torah 'garin' communities in places like Akko and Lod, where young Jewish families have set up communities in the midst of mixed Jewish-Arab cities, said Ariel.
In addition, said Ariel, ministers for Jewish Home were able to prevent a large cut in the budget for IDF preparatory academies, one year programs for post-high school students who study Torah for a year before entering the IDF. More funding has been secured to help former Gush Katif residents find homes and jobs, said Ariel, and more positions in the National Service, where many army-age religious girls serve for one or two years in lieu of IDF service, have been added, he said.
Following a long discussion that continued well into the night, the Cabinet early Thursday morning approved the budget for 2015-2016. 20 ministers voted in favor of the budget, and one abstained – Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
The budget for 2015 will stand at 330 billion shekels and at just over 343 billion shekels in 2016. The deficit in those years will be 2.9% of the GDP.
As part of the agreements that were approved, an extra 5 billion shekels will go to the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health will receive an extra 4.6 billion shekels, the Ministry of Public Security will receive 1.7 billion shekels, and 1.3 billion shekels will be dedicated to welfare.