The "March of the Living" will take place as planned in Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon in spite of the improvement in the government's allowance plan proposal to Holocaust survivors, the Tafnit organization which helped the survivors organize the march said Sunday morning.
"On the last Holocaust Day, the prime minister promised that there would not be one poor Shoah survivor in Israel.
Today's march is taking place as per the request of the survivors' organizations and in their presence. The survivors have had enough of promises and foot-dragging," Tafnit officials said.
Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday morning that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
planned to offer the survivors an improved proposal.
The proposal focuses on the definition of two groups of survivors: Holocaust survivors – who lived under the Nazi occupation, lived in concentration camps or ghettos or lived in hiding; and "Holocaust refugees" – about 150,000 people, most of them immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who did not live under Nazi occupation.
According to the plan, about 30,000 needy and handicapped Holocaust survivors will receive a monthly allowance ranging between NIS 1,000 (about $230) and NIS 6,000 ($1,380), according to the severity of the survivors' condition.
The government will also consider giving some of them a one-time grant of thousands of shekels.
The "Holocaust refugees" group will receive less money. About 80,000 "Holocaust refugees" defined as needy, who receive both an old-age pension (about NIS 2,200 - $510) and an income supplement from the National Insurance Institute will receive an allowance ranging between NIS 500 ($116) to NIS 700 ($162) a month.
About 70,000 "Holocaust refugees" who have another source of income will receive a lower allowance of NIS 300 ($70)). In addition to the allowances, the government will form an aid package for the purchase of accessories and medications for the needy Shoah survivors.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the start of Sunday's cabinet meeting that "the Holocaust survivors issue is very sensitive, and this is the first government dealing with this issue,
"I do not want to address marginal issues. Those who send a picture to the newspaper of a woman dressed in pajamas with a yellow Star of David are taking the dispute to an unacceptable level which will not dictate the government's actions regarding this issue," he added.
The survivors' representatives are expected to meet with the prime minister on Wednesday and to be presented with the improved proposal. The march was initiated by the survivors in protest of the government's previous proposal. According to the survivors, the small addition to the allowance is insulting.
The march is scheduled to leave the Knesset at 4:30 pm toward the Prime Minister's Office. Tafnit officials reported receiving hundreds of phone calls from citizens wishing to join the march.
Talking to Ynet, Tafnit Chairman Uzi Dayan addressed Olmert's claims and promises.
"This is lack of leadership, irresponsibility and promises without coverage. An intra-ministry committee proposed some serious work, and then nothing happened. Now, when there is public pressure, there is suddenly a new plan within 24 hours.
"This is why I am proud to assist in this just struggle. I am ready to take attacks and insults from the people they refer to as "the prime minister's aides." The Tafnit movement is social, and therefore I am ready to take all the insults if the prime minister fulfills his duty and allows the Holocaust survivors live in dignity."
Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, who is also slated to take part in Wednesday's meeting, said, "I carefully ask the demonstration organizers to act very responsibly today.
"A protest march in prisoners' uniform and the yellow Star of David, as legitimate as it is, may harm the Holocaust's collective memory," he told Ynet.
He added that the issue was important and was "at the focus of the ministry's work out of an intention to find, bridge and lead to an agreed upon solution and help the Shoah survivors."
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report