The government will budget an additional NIS 60 million a year to help Holocaust survivors if a bill authorized by a Knesset committee on Tuesday becomes law.
“This bill will benefit survivors, but it’s a fraction of what is needed,” Labor, Welfare and Health Committee chairman Haim Katz (Likud Beytenu) said. “We need to make sure Holocaust survivors get all they deserve.”
The committee approved for its second and third (final) readings legislation granting all 18,500 legally recognized Holocaust survivors an annual grant of NIS 4,750. Currently, only the 6,000 survivors who receive income support are eligible to get the grant.
Should the bill become law, it will go into effect in February, and survivors will receive the grant for 2014 and retroactively for 2013.
The Labor, Welfare and Health Committee meeting was one of several dealing with Holocaust survivors on Tuesday, a week ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The Knesset Finance Committee discussed Holocaust survivors who immigrated to Israel after 1953 and are not eligible for the same benefits as those who came earlier.
The Knesset commemorated the remembrance day a week early because more than half of its members plan to attend a ceremony in Auschwitz-Birkenau next Monday in what will be the largest delegation of MKs ever.
The Caucus for Holocaust Survivors, led by MKs Yifat Kariv (Yesh Atid), Elazar Stern (Hatnua) and Dov Henin (Hadash), held meetings with hundreds of survivors and organizations that aid them, and lawmakers held a special discussion in the plenum in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“We are sitting in the Knesset today and this is the greatest proof that the Jewish people won and survived,” Kariv said. “In the past year, we did important things – passing laws, regulations and budgetary decisions – to help make Holocaust survivors’ lives better, but it’s not enough.”
Kariv called for the Knesset to make sure every survivor lives in dignity and gets all of his or her rights.
“Our test on Holocaust Remembrance Day is our ability to promote changes to laws that will protect those who survived. It’s unfortunate to see that, even after so many years, there are many failures and injustices when it comes to [the government’s] treatment of Holocaust survivors,” Henin said.
Stern said he and other MKs don’t need a special day to help survivors, because they make an effort every day.
“As a son of survivors and former chairman of the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel, Holocaust [issues] in general and survivors specifically are close to my heart,” Stern said.