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Disabled inaugurate campaign against PM, Kahlon
Agreement reached with disabled organizations on raising benefits collapses, disabled organizations renew protests, declare nationwide campaign against PM Netanyahu, Finance Minister Kahlon and Welfare Minister Katz; 'We're going to protest en masse, we've had enough of liars,' says one activist leader.
Disabled organizations once again blocked the entrance to the Jerusalem offices of the Finance Ministry Thursday, in retaliation to the plan presented last week to raise disability benefits and on the backdrop of the government commencing its discussions on the state's 2019 budget, in which the raise is included.

 

 

The agreement was unveiled last week with much fanfare in a press conference attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Labor and Welfare Minister Haim Katz and Treasury Director-General Shai Babad, and was termed a "historic move" by the premier.

 

The various disabled organizations have been split on whether to support the original agreement—achieved through Histadrut Labor Federation mediation—but as of today no organizations have come out in support of the plan as it was presented last week.

 

The campaign against Netanyahu, Kahlon and Katz is already underway
The campaign against Netanyahu, Kahlon and Katz is already underway
 

The two organizations that spearheaded support of the settlement—"Disabled, Not Half a Person" and "The Disabled Protest Headquarters"—announced that as far as they were concerned the newest plan was a breach of the agreement, and threatened to resume protests, a threat they made good on Thursday.

 

Even Welfare Minister Katz, however, who only last week welcomed the Treasury's agreements with the organizations regarding raising benefits, announced Wednesday he planned on voting against the budget since the Treasury's Budgets Department refused to approve the plan as it was presented, he claimed.

 

In anticipation of Thursday's cabinet meeting, the "Disabled, Not Half a Person" organization came out with a nationwide physical and social media campaign under the heading, "Abandoning the disabled – against half measures."

 

The organization claimed that the framework agreement presented last week only referred to half of the budget the government committed to invest in the matter as part of the September Histadrut negotiations, and even left some of the agreed articles out.

 

'Abandoning the disabled. Not half measures'
'Abandoning the disabled. Not half measures'

 

The first stage of the campaign will include billboards all across the country, showing Netanyahu under the heading "Not a man of his word", Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon under "Net not social" and Welfare Minister Katz under "Harms the disabled."

 

Chairman of the organization Alex Friedman said, "We won't abide by half an agreement, half a budget and half a benefit increase. Minister Katz, who held back the agreement for months and even stopped it from being enacted in December, is continuing his war over who gets the credit and announced he's objecting to his own deal.

 

"Netanyahu and Kahlon, meanwhile, have used every opportunity to abdicate their own responsibility for the agreement. In light of this, we have decided to return to protests en masse and with the backing of the public, who has had enough of the lies and liars."

 

"The Disabled Protest Headquarters," which supported the framework agreement originally, joined in on denouncing last week's agreement. The organization's chairperson Naomi Moravia said, "After speaking with the welfare minister personally our biggest fears were proven to have come true. Despite Minister Katz's insistence, the Treasury struck down and dwarfed nearly every agreement reached in the Histadrut."

 

Last year's protests. The organizations threatened to renew the demonstrations (Photo: Disabled Panthers)
Last year's protests. The organizations threatened to renew the demonstrations (Photo: Disabled Panthers)

 

"The blame can unequivocally be laid at the feet of two people—the prime minister and the Treasury's director-general—who have balled their hand into a fist against one of Israel's society's weakest populations. Heroes on the backs of people with disabilities," she reproached the pair.

 

The welfare minister indeed announced he planned on voting against the budget due to his dispute with the Treasury. Katz claimed the ministry refused to approve the government bill to raise benefits since it included linking benefits with the average wage and since it anchored the third and fourth increments of the raise for the future. He added that due to the dispute, the bill may not be brought to the government for approval Thursday at all.

 

A message on behalf of Katz said, "Minister Katz is unwilling to take part in misleading the disabled, as they were promised linkage with the average wage and enacting future increments. Anything else is throwing dust in their eyes."

 

 (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
(Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)

 

A source close to the minister added that Kahlon looked after the middle class, but completely forgot needy populations along the way. To support the argument, the source brought up Katz's demand for an increase of 60 agorot per day to dissipate senior citizens' loneliness, and NIS 5.48 per day for treating them, which were blocked by the Treasury.

 

It should be noted Katz and Kahlon discussed the government bill to raise benefits and the Welfare Ministry's overall needs vis-à-vis the 2019 budget, and have agreed to meet before the cabinet convenes to approve the budget.

 


First published: 01.11.18, 20:56
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