Disabled teen .
(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Protesters announced on Wednesday their intention to step up measures in an effort to raise disability allotments to the level of minimum wage.
Disability benefits now reach a maximum payment of NIS 2,342 per month – less than half of the NIS 5,000 minimum wage – barely enough on which to get by and live with dignity, according to protesters.
Dozens of people with disabilities demonstrated on Wednesday evening, blocking the main exit from Jerusalem and causing major traffic.
The protesters held signs and shouted, “We want justice, not charity,” a play on the Hebrew words tzedek and tzedaka.
The increased measures follow attempts to pass legislation to raise disability allotments, but the bill was blocked by the Finance Ministry. Payments have been frozen for nearly 15 years, during which time the minimum wage has increased some 50%.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon convened a committee to examine raising the allotments that is expected to release its recommendations in the coming days.
According to several Hebrew media reports, the committee will recommend a gradual monthly increase for some 230,000 people with disabilities who rely on the allotments.
While the extent of such an increase is unclear – and the subject of media speculation – the expectation is that it will not equal the minimum wage.
In a radio interview with Reshet Bet on Thursday, deputy coalition chairman and Knesset Finance Committee member Miki Zohar (Likud), said the committee will delay transferring excess funds from the budget until there is an increase in disability allotments.
Zohar said the increase will not bring payments up to the minimum wage, but will raise allotments by 50%, which he called “fair and realistic.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, acknowledging the protest in a Wednesday evening Likud faction toast ahead of Passover, said, “Soon we will increase the allotments for disabled people.”