Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich continues to face criticism over his decision to freeze a special grant intended for institutes of higher education for East Jerusalem Arabs, claiming that they lack oversight and that the money also reaches terrorist entities. Member of Knesset Ze'ev Elkin from the Machane HaMamlachti criticized the decision, asserting that it is populist and will push Arab students towards the path of terrorism.
Elkin recounted: "A few years ago, the government made a decision to fund academic studies in Jerusalem for residents of the eastern part of the city. The Prime Minister at the time was Binyamin Netanyahu. A member of the coalition was MK Bezalel Smotrich. Apparently, someone advised Finance Minister Smotrich this week to halt the transfer of funds intended to encourage higher education among the Arab residents of the eastern part of the city in academic institutions."
The MK also added: "The rationale: stopping budgeting for the Arabs will not harm the basis." The simple mistake: those students are residents of the State of Israel. Instead of studying in recognized Israeli institutions, they will go to study in institutions in Nablus and Ramallah. Instead of taking part in studies in the State of Israel, they will act against the State of Israel - and return to Jerusalem as Israeli residents. The opponents: the head of the National Security Council, the General Security Agency and the security forces. Bezalel Smotrich, there is no shame in taking responsibility and deciding otherwise."
Smotrich: "Extremist Islamic cells have developed in universities and colleges"
As mentioned, Smotrich faced many criticisms for the step which, according to his claim, would prevent funding for terror. Last night, the leader of the Zionist Union responded to the criticism and explained the decision. In a post he published on social media, he wrote: "In recent years, extreme Islamic cells have developed in universities and colleges in Israel that repeatedly express identification with Israel's enemies and often push aside the feet of other students. During periods of security tension, the lives of Jewish students become unbearable. Moreover, these students are given preference over a Jewish student who served in the army and does reserves. We don't want Arab students to learn in Birzeit and then we get Birzeit at our universities."
"During the Operation Shomer HaChomot, for example, Arab students in the academic institute at the Hebrew University officially held a strike, demonstrating on campus in solidarity with Hamas militants in Gaza and joining the 'struggle to save Al-Aqsa.' Unfortunately, this absurdity of extreme Islamic cells operating within academic institutions in the country and supporting our enemies under the guise of 'academic freedom' has become a disturbing reality."
Smotrich added and clarified: "I refuse to accept all these occurrences. And yes, I am not a rubber stamp of anyone, and again, I do not apologize for coming to promote values and policies. That is why I was elected. That is why I conditioned the approval of this clause on the creation of mechanisms to deal with nationalist extremism in universities and prevent it."