The economic status of people with disabilities in Israel has deteriorated in recent years and is now the worst among Western countries.
According to the 2007 report from the Commission for Equal Rights in the Ministry of Justice which was made public on Sunday, the average income of disabled persons in Israel is less than 70% of the average for those without disabilities.
The commission also discovered that the percentage of the severely disabled population which is employed is only slightly above 40%, in comparison to 80% of those classified as living with a minor disability.
On a related note, almost 70% of citizens of working age with serious disabilities are unemployed and do not even receive National Insurance payments.
Given the report's findings, the commission conducted a survey of employers which revealed that 85% of Israeli employers do not currently employ people with disabilities and that 23% stated that they did not want disabled employees.
Disabled as social periphery
Chairwoman of the Commission for Equal Rights, Dr. Dina Feldman, had this to say regarding the report: "These findings have far-reaching implications not only for private citizens and their families, but also for all of Israeli society. We must remember that we are speaking about a group of people who represent almost a quarter of the Israeli population - 1.36 million people, 40% of whom are severely disabled. Many of them are subject to discrimination because of their origin, place of residence, age, or gender.
"Israel needs to seriously change the way it treats this issue. We must raise the level of education and professional training of persons with disabilities and encourage businesses to employ them so as to extract the disabled from this vicious circle of welfare payments and low levels of education," she said.
"On the other hand, we need to guarantee a worthy social safety net to those whose disability prevents them from integrating in the workplace despite their abilities and readiness to work. The challenge is rather large as it is necessary to focus our efforts on what is considered a social and geographic periphery."