Yigal Ben-Shalom. Discriminatory
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Holocaust survivors' benefits delayed

Prime Minister's Office decides to delay payment of additional benefits to survivors by at least two months, citing necessary bills are still in the works. 'Government might find itself facing unprecedented protest,' warns head of survivors' welfare fund

The Prime Minister's Office decided Tuesday to delay – again – the distribution of aid funds to Holocaust survivors, this time until March.


The funds were supposed to be transferred to the survivors by January 1st, but according to the decision, no funds will be funneled until new bills on the matter are introduced, determining the criteria and guidelines for financial aid to the elderly public in general, including Holocaust survivors.


According to the government's original relief program, the State will allocate $260 million to the welfare of the elderly population; an additional $130 million will be given as aid to those defined "in dire financial need" and all funds will be distributed in the form of Social Security benefits.


Over the past few months the Prime Minister's Office and the Finance Ministry have been butting heads on the matter. The new eligibility criteria, based partially on property ownership, have brought the Ministry of National Infrastructures and the National Insurance Institute (NII) into the mix and none are in agreement.


'Unprecedented wave of protest'

The NII and the Ministry of Social Affairs claim that any criteria based on property ownership are discriminatory: "This directly undermines the National Insurance Institute and may lead to the cancellation of public insurance all together," Dr. Yigal Ben-Shalom, director-general of the NII told Ynet.


The Prime Minister's Office further awarded some 8,000 Holocaust survivors who have been denied benefits so far due to "lack of the necessary papers," their due benefits pay.


The government is expected to give Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On the necessary proxy to settle their claim immediately, in its next meeting.


"We believe the State will live-up to its promise to us," the Center of organizations of Holocaust survivors in Israel told Ynet.


Ze'ev Factor, the chairman of the Holocaust Survivors' Welfare Fund was a little less optimistic: "Should we find the government has lied to the Holocaust survivors, to elderly people suffering cold and hunger, it would find itself facing an unprecedented wave of protest, unheard of in the history of Israel."


פרסום ראשון: 01.02.08, 00:30
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