Cabinet to vote on natural disasters compensation bill

Initiator MK Trajtenberg: Lack of legislation led to gov’t labeling brush fires ‘terrorism’

February 23, 2017 20:21
1 minute read.
Fire in Israel

A firefighting plane drops fire retardant during a wildfire, near the communal settlement of Nataf, close to Jerusalem November 23, 2016.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will vote on Sunday whether to support a bill to grant compensation to victims of natural disasters.

Currently, there is no national system to deal with compensating citizens whose privately owned property gets damaged under such circumstances.

The only legislation that deals with those cases is the Natural Disasters Compensations Law that allows payments to farmers for damaged agriculture infrastructures but not on homes or private property.

The bill would authorize the finance and interior ministers to declare a natural disaster, which would then allow money to be allocated from the tax authority compensation fund.

Zionist Union MK Manuel Trajtenberg, who submitted the bill, told The Jerusalem Post that the brush fires in November made him realize the state has no means to deal with such situations.

Trajtenberg claims that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon were dragged into labeling the fires as terrorist acts of arson in order to allow the state to compensate the victims.

“There was no situation in which they could compensate even one family without claiming that it was a terrorist attack,” he said. “In the current legal situation, announcing that it was a natural disaster would leave many of those families with nothing. In order to do so they had to slander 20% of the population.”

Trajtenberg said it is common practice among OECD countries to have an authority in the executive branch in charge of natural disasters and there is no reason why Israel would not have one as well.

“In the United States the president can do that. We have seen the effectiveness of this authority in cases such as hurricanes,” he said, adding that global climate change could be a major factor here in the future, and it is best to take preventive steps.

“You cannot tell what can happen next here in Israel. There are a lot of changes all over the world.”

Trajtenberg concluded by mocking how the government handled victims of the fires: “What’s next? If a tsunami hits they’ll blame Hamas?” He then expressed his hope that the cabinet will vote in favor of supporting the bill, which is also signed by coalition members such as MK David Amsalem (Likud) and MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism).

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