The ultra-Orthodox parties were first to sign coalition deals with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following the 2015 Knesset elections, and the demand for reform cancellation was the first on their agenda – even ahead of the traditional party demands of budgetary allocations and government roles. Among the main reforms that were rolled back were the new requirements on enlistment of ultra-Orthodox members of the public and the removal of the “minister without portfolio” designation from government (for which Lapid campaigned).
That way, they managed to force other coalition parties to agree to the reform back-peddling as well. These include the Bayit Yehudi party, led by Minister Naftali Bennett, who is personally opposed to funding ultra-Orthodox education without core subjects.
An Initiative by former Education Minister Shai Piron (of Yesh Atid), who decided to subsidize summer school programs for the month of July, was also cancelled – by his replacement, Bennett. The reason? The subsidies did not include ultra-Orthodox institutions. When Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) came into office as economy minister, he made sure to cancel benefits that would favor employed Israelis seeking to buy apartments (as many men in the ultra-Orthodox sector are torah scholars subsidized by the state, and are not employed, these benefits would not help them).
Budgetary allocations for yeshivas, which were slashed during Lapid’s time until they stood at about NIS 500 million, were increased to over NIS 1 billion in the current government.
Officials from Yesh Atid responded to this story by saying, “Israel is going backwards, and it is being led by a government that doesn’t care about anything but its own political interests. Yesh Atid passed encompassing reforms in the previous government for the benefit of all (of Israel’s) citizens, regardless of their sector (or coalition agreement relation). The goal of the reforms was (to benefit) the future of all of the children of Israel, the Israeli markets and the development of the job market and (the strengthening) of Israeli society.”
They continued, “Sadly, the current cancellation of these reforms is taking Israel backwards. The (Yesh Atid) party has worked, and will continue to work, for all of Israel’s citizens, and for a fair distribution of the state budget to all parts of the populace without thought towards this or that political affiliation, so that the common good may be promoted.”