(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee decided Monday it would not approve emergency measures for the South as long as the Finance Ministry has not budgeted compensation for employees forced to missed work.
Committee chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud Beytenu) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) disagreed on when such a budget should be set – during or after Operation Protective Edge.
Elkin refused to renew the “special situation in the home front” beyond Wednesday, because the Finance Ministry had still not declared that those residing within 40 km of Gaza will be paid for “indirect damages,” such as not being able to work because of security issues.
“We learned last week that the Finance Ministry has not made any preparations to compensate citizens for economic damages as a result of the security situation, not for employees who can’t go to work because their children’s camp is canceled, nor for business- owners, especially small business-owners,” Elkin said.
He said it is absurd that those who suffer because of the security situation should suffer economically as well.
“When it comes to economic damages, Sderot is being treated like Tel Aviv,” he added. “It’s been a week since the operation began and there is still no decision.”
Histadrut chairman Avi Nissankoren said, “Every delay harms the home front...
People need to know how to behave. Employers need to know they’re getting paid damages and workers need to know they’ll be paid.”
Although Finance Ministry representatives came to the meeting unprepared and did not contribute any information, a source later explained that such a budget cannot be set because the length of the operation is still unknown, as is the extent of the compensation that will need to be paid.
Lapid addressed the issue during a Yesh Atid faction meeting in a similar vein: “After speaking to the Histadrut chairman and some mayors from the South, I instructed the professional staff in the Finance Ministry and Tax Authority that immediately, when the operation ends, they should sit with all the relevant people to compensate businesses and workers.
“In the past, we created ‘fast tracks’ to accelerate the release of such payments, and we will do so again at the end of this operation,” said Lapid, who did not attend the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting.