(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Despite governmental pronouncements and growing public pressure, the Finance Ministry is delaying a plan to support Holocaust survivors living in Israel, Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog said Monday.
"Unfortunately, up until now our plan has not been met with a response by the Finance Ministry, which refuses to accept the proposal, even after it has been cut," Herzog said at a meeting of the Knesset's Immigration and Absorption Committee, which discussed a new assistance program for Holocaust survivors in Israel.
Approximately 250,000 Holocaust survivors are thought to be living in the country.
Nearly one-third of them live in poverty, recent welfare reports have found, prompting growing calls for additional government assistance.
Herzog told the committee meeting, which was attended by Holocaust survivors and survivor rights groups, that he had urged the prime minister to convene an urgent cabinet meeting on the issue, but had not received an answer so far.
The Finance Ministry was not immediately available for comment on Monday.
Avraham Roet, the head of the Israeli Organization for the Restitution of Assets for Holocaust Victims, said Monday that the government as a whole was to blame for the delay.
"We cannot just blame Finance Ministry clerks, but a government that is evading responsibility," said Roet.
He noted that the plan was drawn up on May 15, and nearly two months later nothing has been done.
"Both the Knesset and the government are impotent when it comes to Holocaust survivors," Roet added.
Meanwhile, MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima) said Monday that it was an ironic twist that Herzog was taking such a welcome and firm stance on behalf of Holocaust survivors even though he had not nixed a tax on Holocaust survivors living in public housing during his previous position as housing minister.
The tax was later lifted by his successor, Meir Sheetrit, she said.