Government pledges to resolve Holocaust survivors' allowance dispute within 11 days
Prime minister says most important task at hand is to assist death camp survivors who have not received any allowances until now. ‘Government officials are sitting here because they really care,’ survivor representative says
During a meeting held Wednesday afternoon between Ehud Olmert and representatives of Holocaust survivor organizations, the prime minister instructed the Finance Ministry to resolve the dispute regarding the survivors’ monthly stipends by August 19.
Olmert said the most important task at hand was to assist those death camp survivors who have not received any allowances until now.
“There is no argument over the fact that these people (survivors) must be helped,” he said during the meeting, adding that he would work toward allocating additional funds to the survivor organizations.
Labor’s Collete Avital, head of the Lobby for Holocaust Survivors in the Knesset, said she believed it was the government’s intent to include the allowances in the 2008 budget.
Noah Flug, chairman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors, said an urgent solution to the survivors’ dire living conditions must be provided.
“The government representatives are sitting here because they really care and consider helping the survivors an ethical mission of the utmost importance,” he said.
'We are here to help them'
Director-general of the Welfare Ministry, Nahum Itzkovitch, said following the meeting that the end of the dispute is in sight.
It should be noted that the sides did not discuss specific figures, but did agree that those who had not received any financial assistance until now would be the first to receive the allowances, followed by survivors who are living under the poverty line and those who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union in the past 20 years.
“No amount can compensate someone who has been in a concentration camp, a ghetto or a safe house, but we must prove to them that we are here to help them,” Flug said.
MK Avital said, “I got the impression that the prime minister instructed the Finance Ministry officials to treat the survivors in a dignified and generous manner.
“I concluded that it was the government’s sincere intention to include the sum needed for the survivors in the 2008 state budget.”