(photo credit: Courtesy)
The cabinet on Sunday established a ministerial committee charged with restoring social benefits earned by olim in their countries of origin that were lost when they made aliya.
Committee chairwoman and Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver hopes the panel will be able to formalize bilateral agreements with former Soviet Union countries on paying pensions and other social benefits to citizens now residing in the other country. Such agreements mainly benefit Israel because of the high proportion of immigrants here.
Israel has agreements with some 15 Western states, but not with the FSU states that were once the home of a million Israelis.
The issue is high on the agenda for the immigrant-focused Israel Beiteinu party, which has been raising it in the Knesset since 2007.
Now, with the Absorption and Foreign ministries both in Israel Beiteinu's hands, the party hopes to successfully negotiate bilateral agreements that could benefit 150,000 FSU-born Israelis eligible for benefits in those countries, according to National Insurance Institute estimates.
In addition to Landver, the committee includes Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog, Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein and Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled.
The panel is charged with developing recommendations for the cabinet on bilateral agreements, and with overseeing their implementation.