Disabled person with wheelchair 150.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Knesset will convene during its long summer recess on September 18 to discuss increasing disability benefits.
The Zionist Union initiated the petition, gathering signatures from Meretz and Yesh Atid, making up more than the requisite 25 lawmakers to call a Knesset meeting during the recess, and submitted them on Sunday. The Knesset announced the date of the meeting on Tuesday.
The topic of the meeting is “the government’s torture of the disabled,” but more issues are expected to be added in the coming days.
MK Itzik Shmuly of Zionist Union, one of the debate’s initiators, said “the government is degrading disabled people and we MKs must stand by them and put an end to this failure. We will not give up and not be quiet in light of the harassment and fraud the government puts the disabled through.”
The recess meeting comes after months in which people with disabilities held protests around the country calling for their benefits to be equal to minimum wage. Their monthly allotment has remained stagnant at NIS 2,342 for the past 16 years.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday that he would allocate NIS 4 billion over the next four years toward allotments for people with disabilities, raising monthly benefits to NIS 3,200 – just over the NIS 3,154 poverty line – and NIS 4,000 for the severely disabled.
Some 238,000 Israelis have disabilities. Of these, some 195,000 are classified as being 100% disabled and rely solely on their monthly allotment to make ends meet.
Activists from the NGO A Disabled Person is Not a Half Person blocked off Route 2 in protest the following morning, calling for immediate and comprehensive action.
Meretz MK Ilan Gilon said on Sunday that this was “a continuation of the policy of throwing sand in the eyes of the public. We are fed up with the empty promises and declarations without coverage. After 16 years, it is time to raise the allocation of the disabled.”
Sarah Levi contributed to this report.