Israeli Finance Minister Releases Plan to Incentivize Haredi Men to Join the Workforce

Feb. 17 2022

The Israeli finance minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has frequently clashed with ḥaredi leaders, unveiled a plan this week to draw ḥaredi men to the workforce by “halving the hours spent in religious study in return for the same state stipend.” About half of ḥaredi men work while the rest study during the work week and receive state funding—a practice dating back to the formation of the state, when the ḥaredi population was far smaller. As Steven Scheer notes, this arrangement has long concerned economists and policymakers.

The Bank of Israel and economic leaders have warned of long-term strains on the budget if they are not integrated into the workforce—especially with the ultra-Orthodox population forecast to grow from 12.6 percent last year to 32 percent by 2065.

Under his plan, Lieberman—who has long believed ultra-Orthodox men should earn a living not based on handouts—said he would cut the hours men spend studying to 20, while still giving them the same state stipend.
“This will allow them to go to work,” he said.

Lieberman has already proposed requiring that both parents be employed to receive state subsidies for child daycare.

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Read more at Reuters

More about: Avigdor Lieberman, Haredim, Israeli economy

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship