Likud and Yesh Atid agree Haredi schools to teach math, English

Next government’s policies beginning to take shape; Moshe Ya’alon likely set to serve as defense minister

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Ultra-Orthodox Children in a Jerusalem classroom, August 2009 (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90)
Ultra-Orthodox Children in a Jerusalem classroom, August 2009 (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90)

With coalition talks entering their final stage, the policies and positions of the next government seemed to be falling into place on Thursday.

One issue that has been finalized in conversations between the negotiations teams of Likud and Yesh Atid is that of enforcing the teaching of core subjects such as English and math in all state-funded schools, notably ultra-Orthodox institutions that have thus far avoided these subjects, Maariv reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Beytenu party and Lapid’s Yesh Atid agreed that core subjects would be in the curriculum of all Israeli schools, the report said.

Subjects such as math and English have been largely ignored by ultra-Orthodox educational institutions, even those funded by the state. As such, they have been at the center of numerous debates regarding the allocation of state funds — a matter heavily addressed in the election platform of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party.

During coalition talks, “Likud didn’t argue with us over substantial topics,” sources in Yesh Atid were quoted as saying. But “we came prepared on a lot of issues. And since we had a detailed plan for each of them, [ultimately] it’s logical that they accepted our opinion.”

The ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party, which is fiercely opposed to the policies espoused by Lapid and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett, on Thursday acknowledged the probability of assuming an opposition role.

“Until today we were in a coalition with the right, but that story is over, it’s about to change,” UTJ MK Moshe Gafni told Israel Hayom. “Now we’re with [Labor Party head] Shelly Yachimovich, and truth be told, we’re much closer to her than to [Hebron settler] Orit Struk of Jewish Home.”

One apparent sticking point in talks between Likud and Yesh Atid has been Netanyahu’s insistence that the position of foreign minister be held for Avigdor Liberman, the leader of Yisrael Beytenu, who has noted his intention to return to the post if and when he is exonerated of the corruption charges that he is currently fighting in court.

Reports have said Lapid turned down the Finance Ministry, and the Jewish Home denied claims it was later accepted by Naftali Bennett, with negotiations on the issue ongoing. The position of defense minister will likely be handed to senior Likud MK, and former IDF chief of the General Staff, Moshe Ya’alon, Haaretz reported on Thursday.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed