Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday that there is "no reason to fund ultra-Orthodox institutes that teach idleness" at a meeting of his center-right Yisrael Beitenu party.
Liberman — a longtime critic of yeshivot, as well as Haredi schools and politicians — said that institutions that refuse to teach core curriculum subjects such as English and math can "do so at their own expense, but not at the expense of taxpayers."
"They sit there in the kollelim (Talmudic schools for married men), they come in the morning, eat a sandwich, drink a cup of coffee and talk about politics, go through some books and go home."
"The budget is for idle studies, not for sacred studies. We will fight it," said Liberman, who further explained he wants to cut the budget for these schools by over $120 million.
"We go for the minimalist view, and we will not give up."
Knesset member Meir Porush of the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism faction reportedly criticized Liberman, whom he said "speaks like a drunk."
"Instead of speaking out against the Arab schools in Israel that teach [Palestinian Liberation Organization] core studies, including those that also teach against the state, he is trying to close ultra-Orthodox schools," Porush continued.
However, UTJ chief Moshe Gafni reportedly asked members of his party not to comment on Liberman's remarks.
Aryeh Deri, the head of the Sephardic Haredi Shas party, was said to have issued a similar directive to the members of his own faction.
Republished with permission from i24NEWS.