Netanyahu, Katz meet those financially hurt by COVID-19 crisis

The Friday meeting arrives with the public gearing up to a massive protest on Saturday night, “at least in prison I’ll be able to eat” unemployed model confesses in tears.

Israel Katz (L) whispers to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) during a cabinet meeting, December 9th, 2018 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel Katz (L) whispers to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) during a cabinet meeting, December 9th, 2018
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Israel Katz on Friday met with representatives of industries badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Meeting attendees included President of the Association for the Self-Employed Roee Cohen, representative of independent business owners Talya Laufer Epstien, Institute of Tax Consultants in Israel President Yaron Gindi, Head of the association of Hotels and Event Gardens Noam Levy, Head of the Union of Restaurant and Bar Owners Shai Berman, Head of the Union of Stage Producers Yoni Fiengold and others. The meeting occurred ahead of a planned mass protest set to take place in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening.
Netanyahu told the delegation that "speaking with you really helped us" and vowed that "if needed we will do more things, so that nobody will be lost in the shuffle."
Katz said that, in his opinon, the plan he and the prime minister unveiled on Thursday "is your plan" and said the government will be presented with it for approval on Monday.   
The meeting ended with some in the group agreeing to give the administration's new plan a chance by skipping the protest and others, faced with a past history of disappointment, participated, Channel 13 reported on Friday. 
Police said that at the time of this writing the protest organizer "withdrew the permit request out of his own accord" and that other organizers who wish to proceed with it must request a new permit.
The NIS 80 billion package Netanyahu and Katz presented on Thursday will extend unemployment aid until June 2021, or as long as the unemployment rate the country is facing is above 10%. Israel's unemployment rate was reported to stand at 21% on Thursday with roughly one million people out of work.
The plan offers relief and will be brought before the government for approval on Sunday. The first payments for the self-employed and other business owners is expected to be in their bank accounts on Wednesday. Other aspects of the plan require the Knesset’s approval and new legislation. Netanyahu complained about bureaucracy and pointed to the lengthy process of passing a law in the Knesset as a reason for previous failures to get the money to those in need. 
Katz on Thursday described the plan's benefits as “giving handsomely.”
The plan does not tie unemployment benefits with vocational training, something that Netanyahu hinted will be included in the plan at a later stage, as some lines of work, including tourism and aviation, may change radically as the world struggles with the new virus. 
Israel currently does not have a budget and faces a deficit of NIS 88.4 billion, the Finance Ministry reported in June. Netanyahu told the press during the Thursday presentation that “we shouldn’t be afraid to take loans” and pointed to Israel’s allegedly strong economy as an assurance that the country could obtain large loans to fund the plan if it needs to.  
Model Michael Lewis took to social media on Friday to tearfully confess he owes NIS 30,000 in 2018 taxes and due to the pandemic, he can’t pay, Kan tweeted.
Already NIS 47,000 in the red, he said he’ll go to prison because “at least in prison I’ll get something to eat.” Lewis was selected by E! as one of the sexiest men alive nine years ago. 
The planned Saturday night protest by those suffering financial hardships was further inflamed by what many view as excessive police brutality in enforcing the Health Ministry’s regulations and a sense that those in the ruling class fail to see how dire things are.  
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein was the latest to experience this rage after it was discovered that he attended a social event with dozens of guests in his own back yard after telling the public at a press conference about the shutting down of gyms and swimming pools. Edelstein denies this claim. He joins the long list of such noted people as Minister Tzachi Hanegbi who publicly said he thinks people who say they have nothing to eat are full of “bullsh*t”, and Netanyahu himself who asked, and got on June 23, a decade’s worth of back taxes to the tune of NIS 1 million paid by the State of Israel.