"We will not stand for a Holocaust survivor starving for bread and living in conditions unfit for a man. We must find a solution to these problems," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday during a meeting convened to discuss possible solutions for elderly Holocaust survivors whose needs are not being met by the State.
Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, Pensioner's Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan, Health Minister Yacov Ben Yizri and Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann were all summoned to the meeting.
Olmert asked the attendees to present him with the initiatives currently being promoted by their offices to benefit Holocaust survivors in Israel and asked them to continue to work continuously to resolve their plight.
Olmert also instructed the Welfare and Social Services Ministry to work with the other ministries and present him with a draft of a plan to significantly improve the quality of life for poverty-stricken survivors within two weeks time.
"I sought to hold this meeting due to the distress of Holocaust of survivors who do not receive stipends of who receive insufficient financial support, a distress we're very aware of," said Olmert.
Herzog announced that his office intends to put forth a comprehensive program for Holocaust survivors by the end of May, with the hope of implementing it sometime in 2008. Herzog said that in the past Israel's governments failed to address the matter properly.
"Holocaust survivors don't receive enough attention and those who do encounter a thicket of red tape. These failings were evident in the very first interministerialmeeting on the subject, especially when it comes to determining who is a Holocaust survivor and what compensation they're entitled to," he said."
Eitan said that many survivors receive financial aid but it is not enough to allow them to live with dignity. Eitan said that his office is working to improve the current situation.