Lapid was reiterating new policy guidelines published Sunday, granting former soldiers a 100-percent exemption from VAT on first home purchases worth up to 1.6 million shekels.
"It is permissible for the State of Israel to fight for its values, it is permissible for it to decide that there is a connection between those who just get rights and those who actually earn them, and this is what we did," Lapid said at the conference hosted by Calcalist, a member of the Yedioth Ahronoth group.
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The finance minister stressed that national service, either military or civilian, is considered an asset. "A young person who gives three years of their life, a young person who in many cases endangers their life, is a better and more worthy citizen. He deserves clear and strong preference."
After Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein refused to approve preferential criteria solely for those who had completed military or national service, a compromise was reached whereby anyone buying their first property will be granted a VAT exemption. However, the exemption is only valid for up to NIS 600,000 shekels ($173,586) for thise who did not complete national service, while those who did receive an exemption of up to 1.6 million shekels ($462,896) – a difference of a million shekels.
The compromise will allow the government to pass the bill without legal dissent, while still rewarding those who performed either military or civilian service. The bill will thus be less applicable to the majority of Israel's Arab population, or to the ultra-Orthodox public, both of whom largely do not serve.