Holocaust museum in Ariel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The cabinet approved a national plan on Sunday, ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, allocating a budget increase of NIS one billion per year to assist some 193,000 Holocaust survivors.
“It is our moral obligation to ensure that Holocaust survivors among us will live the rest of their lives with respect and blessings,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in his opening remarks at the cabinet meeting.
The Cabinet authorized Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Welfare Minister Meir Cohen, who initiated the plan, to complete the necessary legislative amendments within 21 days so that it can be urgently brought to a vote at the Knesset during the upcoming session.
Lapid said: “Today we are changing the priorities and correcting the injustice of many decades in which the survivors were abandoned, pushed aside and lost in the great tangle known as Israeli bureaucracy.
“It is unconceivable that those who managed to survive the worst atrocities of human society will not survive the Israeli bureaucracy. This, we change today.”
Cohen also welcomed the decision, calling the plan “one of the most dramatic and ethical decisions since the founding of the state.”
“This is the bloodiest amendment of Israeli society; and the state owes Holocaust survivors a revival. This is a step that will do right and through this Holocaust survivors will be able to end their life in this country, in a proper and dignified manner,” he said.
The national plan outlines 10 points aimed at reducing the bureaucracy faced by survivors, and improve their living conditions.
The plans calls for the allocation of NIS 277 million intended to end 61 years of disparity and equate the allowances of some 18,500 Holocaust survivors who made aliya after 1953 to survivors who arrived in the country prior to this date.
Currently, survivors who made aliya post-1953 receive allowances ranging from NIS 1,500 to NIS 1,800 per month.
Under the new plan these allowances would increase to a range of NIS 1,825 to NIS 5,400 per month.
The reform would also raise the minimum allowances for all Holocaust survivors receiving monthly pensions from NIS 1,825 to NIS 2,200. This NIS 166m. allotment will benefit some 85,000 Holocaust survivors and victims of Nazi persecution.
The third point in the plan, estimated at NIS 130m., would entitle Holocaust survivors to a 100 percent discount on pharmaceutical drugs included in the health basket, compared to the 50 percent deductible received today.
The plan also calls for the elimination of unnecessary bureaucracy, transferring allowances directly to survivors’ bank accounts.
To date, Holocaust survivors who immigrated after 1953 and who are not veterans of the death camps and ghettos were entitled to a reimbursement of NIS 4,000 once every two years for dental treatments and eye glasses upon providing receipts and documentation.
The proposed amendment, estimated at NIS 288 million, would automatically allocate an annual grant of NIS 3,600 directly to the bank accounts of Holocaust survivors without the need for receipts or documentation.
Furthermore, the proposed plan calls for some 9,000 needy Holocaust survivors to receive an annual grant of NIS 2,000, estimated at a total of NIS 18m.
An additional NIS 65m., under the proposed plan, would be allocated to spouses of Holocaust survivors who have died – in the form of a NIS 2,000 allowance per month beginning from the fourth year of the death.
The national plan also calls for welfare services in day centers as well as doctors’ home visits and emotional and psychological care for Holocaust survivors, estimated at NIS 70m.
Finally, the plan would call for a change in the methods for calculating income, so as not to include allowances paid for by the Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority.
Currently, the nursing allowance paid by the National Insurance Institute is calculated based on an income test of the elderly person.