Israel, Netherlands to negotiate solution for survivor payments

By
February 11, 2016 08:07

The Dutch subsequently denied the Israeli reports, saying “it is in no way the intention of the Dutch government to stop these payments.”

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Anne Frank museum

The Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Jerusalem and Amsterdam are set to begin negotiations over the discontinuation of monthly payments to Holocaust survivors who have immigrated to Israel, the Knesset Finance Committee announced on Wednesday.

Earlier this month committee chairman MK Moshe Gafni expressed outrage over reports that the Netherlands had decided to cease benefits to survivors and receiving similar payments from the Israeli government due to a prohibition on the reception of double allotments.

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In response, the MK demanded that “the senior ranks government of Israel... intervene with the government of the Netherlands” and stated that he would hold a special committee meeting in which he will summon representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry to convince them to take the lead in dissuading The Hague from its intended course of action.

At the time, Colette Avital, chairwoman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, told The Jerusalem Post that if the Dutch had indeed taken such a step, “There is no justification, both because they cannot ask the Israeli government to replace them and because they cannot relinquish their responsibilities.”

The Dutch subsequently denied the Israeli reports, calling them “incorrect” and counter-asserting that “it is in no way the intention of the Dutch government to stop these payments.”

However, the embassy’s statement also said there is a discussion about scaling back on the complementary payments referred to as WUV, which are given by the Dutch government’s Pensions and Benefits Council to needy recipients on a per-case basis in addition to special pensions given to all Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands.

The discussion about scaling back WUV payments is a result of additional funds that Holocaust survivors in Israel began receiving in June 2014 from the Israeli government, the statement said.

But, the statement said about the WUV payments, “no definite decisions were made and discussion on this issue is ongoing with the Israeli authorities.”

In a statement of their own on Wednesday, the Finance Committee announced that Israeli and Dutch negotiating teams will soon begin discussions.

Gafni said that he had a good meeting with the Dutch ambassador and that he “has no reservations about the government of the Netherlands.”

"The concern for Holocaust survivors is one of the most important issues for us, after one third of the Jewish people perished in the Holocaust. We have a moral obligation to do everything possible for the sake of the survivors who are with us here in Israel,” Gafni said.

"Representatives of the two governments will meet in order to find a solution that would provide an adequate response to Holocaust survivors,” said Ambassador Gilles Beschoor Plug, although he declined to go into details at this stage.

JTA contributed to this report

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