The NGO Latet, which combats poverty and food insecurity in Israel, expressed its concern over figures revealed in the National Insurance Institute’s Poverty Report that showed the country is lagging behind other OECD nations in this area.

“The current government and its predecessors have failed in combating poverty and abandoned it. Indeed, despite the fact that more than 1.8 million Israelis and more than 860,000 children live in poverty, there is still no government program designed to address the issue,” Eran Weintraub, executive director of Latet, said in a statement.

According to the report, which was released last week, 442,200 families in Israel lived below the poverty line in the year 2011, which is equivalent to almost two million people. Out of the two million, 860,900 are children. The numbers remained almost unchanged since 2010.

The data also showed that poverty among working families continued to rise in 2011 compared to 2010, despite improvements observed in the job market during the same year.

The figures also exposed an increase of almost three percent in poverty among families with two or more earners, who for many years, were considered immune to poverty.

“This report focuses on the year 2011, but the situation in Israel in 2012 is even worse, since this year was characterized by harsh economic measures, and dramatic increases in the prices of food, electricity, water and other basic needs, along with an additional 1% income tax and an additional 1% VAT,” Weintraub added.

Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director of the National Insurance Institute said that the stability of the poverty line observed between 2010 and 2011 is “not an achievement.”

“Israel should aspire to a significant improvement in poverty and inequality in order to get closer to the average of the OECD countries. To do this, it must use all policy instruments: investment in education, training on the job market, encouraging people to work, creating good working conditions as well as adequate wages,” he added.

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