Olmert at Sunday's meeting
Photo: Itzik Harari
Photo: Michael Kramer
Edelstein; 'it's a disgrace'
Photo: Michael Kramer
Photo: Ofer Amram
MK Shalev; 'nothing to congratulate'
Photo: Ofer Amram
Gal-On; 'salami system'
Photo: Dudi Vaknin

MKs outraged at Olmert's 'distinction' between Shoah survivors

Politicians slam results of prime minister's meeting with Holocaust survivor representatives, say Olmert 'must not distinguish between one human tragedy and another'

The agreements reached between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and representatives of Holocaust survivor organizations were received by the political establishment with mixed feelings on Sunday.


It was decided in the meeting that people who spent time in the Nazi death camps and up until now have not received an allowance would receive NIS 1,200 ($285) per month.


Most of the survivors, about 150,000 in number, who were not held in concentration camps, will have to wait until the High Holydays for a solution to their distress.


The Yisrael Beitenu faction issued a statement in response saying, "The faction is shocked by the prime minister's indifference and disrespect of the Holocaust survivors and the 'second cycle' (survivors who did not spend time in death camps).


"One must not distinguish between one human tragedy and another, or between one person's blood and another's."


The faction called for Olmert to reach an agreement with the 'second cycle' immediately, saying, "If he does not, the faction will use all the tools at its disposal to find a solution for this population."


MK Arieh Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party) claimed that the survivors only received partial justice.


"It is shameful that Ehud Olmert needed demonstrations and chaos of Holocaust survivors who were forced to expose their misery to understand that the State of Israel cannot allow itself to continue this disgrace," Eldad said.


MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said, "Olmert is not keeping his word, despite his promises that all the survivors will receive a suitable allowance – he is leaving close to 90,000 survivors without any such suitable allowance. It is a disgrace that should not be ignored."


Pensioners: This is a sad day

The Pensioners Party, which has a few members who survived the Holocaust themselves, protested the decision not to include all the survivors in the deal.


MK Sara Marom Shalev said, "Unfortunately, there is nothing to congratulate today. This is a sad day since the agreement reached does not rectify the horrible wrong that was done to the Holocaust survivors.


"Even after the agreement, tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors in Israel will not be able to live out the rest of their lives in dignity, and one cannot remain silent on that. The Israeli government has no right to decide who gets (an allowance) and who doesn’t after the billions of funds it has received at the survivors' expense."


MK Moshe Sharoni (Pensioners Party) appealed to Minister of Pensioner Affairs Rafi Eitan with a request that the 38,000 Holocaust survivors who currently receive their allowances from the Treasury be taken care of.


According to Sharoni, the allowance today stands at NIS 38 for every 1% of disability. The MK has demanded that the amount be increased to NIS 60 per 1% disability, and that these survivors receive free medicine and medical treatment.


In addition, Sharoni has asked that survivors receive a complete exemption from property tax for the year 2008 only. "The Treasury receives over 200 million euros per year for these Holocaust survivors; no one is doing us any favors. If by Rosh Hashana the thousands of Holocaust survivors who are living in misery are not treated, I will act toward proper legislation in this matter."


Olmert's decision was also criticized by politicians from the left and Meretz Chairwoman MK Zahava Gal-On said, "Once again the government is operating according to the salami system. The government has approved allowances for only part of the Holocaust survivors and the vast majority was left without a settlement.


"Instead of adopting the recommendations of the committee that set a wide and inclusive definition for who counts as a Holocaust survivor, they are again distinguishing between survivors, in order to allow the prime minister to present a solution to their problem in the future."


On Tuesday the Knesset plenum is expected to convene in a special recess meeting in order to discuss the Holocaust survivors' budget problem, following the request of 50 MKs.


פרסום ראשון: 08.19.07, 21:43
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