People rally in Jerusalem demanding funds for schools

Jerusalem, Sep 7 (IANS) Thousands rallied on Sunday outside Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, demanding more funds for Christian schools, which receive only one-third of what the government allocates to Jewish schools, protesters said.

Israel’s 47 Christian schools have been on strike since the school year started on September 1, in demand of equal budget allocations, Xinhua reported.

Some dozen lawmakers with the Arab-Jewish Joint List joined the rally, which was attended by pupils in school uniforms, parents and leaders of the Christian community.

“We are demonstrating to protest cuts to the budget of Christian schools in Israel,” Wadia Abu Nassar, adviser to the Council of Bishops, told Israel’s Walla web news.

According to Abu Nassar, the government used to subsidise 75 percent of the Christian schools’ budget, but recently cut down its support to 29 percent.

The strike affects about 33,000 pupils, about 60 percent of them Christians and the rest are Muslims, and some 5,000 school workers.

The Council of Arab Local Authorities and the Association of Arab Parents’ Committees said it will hold on Monday a nationwide one-day strike of all Arab schools in the country, in support of the Christian schools.

“Despite the ongoing strike and a demonstration of thousands of people the government still holds no negotiations with the schools, ” they said in a statement.

The rally came after Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin met on Thursday with Pope Francis at the Vatican, and amidst a string of attacks on Christian holy sites by ultra-nationalist Jews.

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