Israel’s Cabinet yesterday approved a plan to fund free education for children aged three and older – the main recommendation of the Trajtenberg report. The law, which is slated to be implemented next academic year, passed in a 21-8 vote, after the cabinet agreed to cut the budgets of government ministries across the board. Still, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to convince coalition-partner Shas that the budget cuts would not affect local authorities or neighborhood rehabilitation plans. Netanyahu praised the decision, stating that, “2012 is the year of education and security.”

The Finance Ministry has continually objected to such a plan, citing the high cost and lack of budget. The cost of the plan is estimated at NIS 7.2 billion over the next five years. The program will cost NIS 1.8 billion annually starting in 2017.

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