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Yacimovich unveils new plan to aid South residents
By LAHAV HARKOV
11/26/2012
Labor leader's socioeconomic rehabilitation plan emphasizes compensation for businesses affected by Gaza operation.
 
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich released a five-point socioeconomic rehabilitation plan for residents of the South on Sunday following Operation Pillar of Defense.

Yacimovich’s plan emphasizes compensation for businesses and employees who lost income due to the security situation in the South, strengthening local government, rehabilitating social services, bomb-proofing infrastructure and economic relief.

“Before the public discourse goes back to politics, and the residents of the South are forced to gather the pieces of the last operation on their own, the government must take clear steps to aid and rehabilitate the South,” she said.

The Labor leader added that over the past decade, residents of the South have gotten used to school closures, inactive businesses and an abnormal routine. The government must prove its commitment to socioeconomic security, Yacimovich stated.

“Israeli society’s strength comes from inside, and the residents of the South who show such strength time and again deserve to know that the government will not return to its [usual] agenda before taking care of their basic needs,” she said.

The first part of Yacimovich’s plan entails compensation for businesses and employees who lost income and days of work. She demanded the government immediately publish a model of compensation that includes salaries, income and expenses. In addition, southern businesses would pay discounted property tax and small and medium businesses would receive extra aid from the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry.

The Labor leader called for local government to be strengthened through a promise not to reduce Interior Ministry grants and special aid to the periphery. In addition, according to her plan, the national government would pay for emergency services.

Yacimovich’s third suggestion, rehabilitating social services, includes an increase in the budget for social workers and psychological services. In addition, she called for the government to simplify the bureaucratic process in welfare services, stop privatizing them and increase public transportation to the periphery.

Next, the Labor leader said the government must protect infrastructure by bomb-proofing hospitals and schools within 40 km. of the Gaza border, renovate bomb shelters and establish a national fund to subsidize protection solutions in other structures.

The final point in Yacimovich’s plan is economic aid in the form of postponing local and national tax payments and payments to banks without charging interest, as well as quickly paying compensation for property damage due to the security system.

Yacimovich did not cite in her proposal, which was presented in both text and a slideshow, the exact cost of her plan or which funds the government would use to pay for it.
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