In this photo taken Tuesday, May 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
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Private Christian schools are among Israel's highest-ranked educational institutions, established by churches in the Holy Land hundreds of years ago – long before Israel was established. But school administrators are accusing Israel of slashing their funding as a pressure tactic to get them join the Israeli public school system – a move they say would interfere with the schools' Christian values and high academic achievements.They are also complaining of discrimination, since as Israel moves to cut money to Christian schools it continues to fully fund large private school networks that cater to ultra-Orthodox Jews.There are about 150,000 Christian citizens of Israel and about 50,000 Christians spread out in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.The protesting Christian schools say this public funding has been systematically cut in recent years to their elementary schools.The Christian schools say they held months of negotiations with the ministry to resolve the budget crisis, but ended the talks when Israel suggested the schools become public.These schools are all facing the same budget cuts that the Christian private schools are, said Amnon De Hartog, a lawyer representing one of 23 private schools – mostly Jewish religious schools – that are petitioning Israel's Supreme Court against the recent budget cuts.Advocates for the Arab community in Israel say the situation of church-run schools is different from other private schools.
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