About 33,000 students at 47 Christian schools are back in class after school officials and the Israeli Ministry of Education struck a deal on Sunday to end a four-week strike.
The one-year agreement means the schools will have about $12.5 million in increased government funding.
Christian leaders had complained that the Education Ministry was discriminating against them by making deep cuts in financial support to the “unofficial but recognized” private Christian schools. The government had funded 45 percent of the $52 million per year it costs to run the schools, but over the last decade cut its support to 29 percent. It also issued new restrictions on tuition.
Similar unofficial ultra-orthodox school networks, which train about 200,000 students, benefit from 100 percent state funding.
Christian leaders were cautious but hopeful that the agreement will lead to further progress.
“I think it is a good achievement for the first stage as the additional funding will help us close the deficit and lower tuition,” said Botrus Mansour, head of Nazareth Baptist School.
According to a lengthy statement released on Sunday, both sides have agreed to create new commissions to resolve their differences by March 2016.
“We are looking to the commission to bring recommendations for legal action and possible legislation to change our legal status and thus get more funding,” Mansour said. “This struggle has brought us Christians from all denominations closer to one another. The Christian manner in which this struggle was handled (nonviolence, respect, inclusiveness) reflected the Christian way and was noticed by the Israeli public and media.”
Public sentiment in Israel ran strongly ...1
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