A new law passed in the Knesset on Tuesday will give people with disabilities more independence and freedom to make their own choices.
The law, which was passed by 42 votes with no opposition, will see people with disabilities moved out of hostels and organized dorms in which they currently live and into independent flats within a community.
In order to help them acclimate to and navigate independent living, the people who live in the communities will be given personal budgets to purchase the services they require according to their preferences, a support system including training for life skills, a handyman to help them maintain their apartments, and therapy both in an individual and a group setting.
An unprecedented law
The law is the first of its kind that defines these rights according to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, of which Israel is a part. Among other articles, the convention states that people with disabilities are to have equal living rights and the right to manage their own finances.
“Today, I’m excited in a way that I haven’t been for a long time,” said Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen. “We kept our main promise to people with disabilities and their families, and we passed a law that will dramatically change the lives of thousands of people.”
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said, “This isn’t a normal law for me. To anyone who says to me, ‘You are fighting for this law because of your daughter,’ the answer is, ‘Yes, certainly.’ When people ask me what my most important decision was in politics, I immediately say supplying free medication for Holocaust survivors, for my father. Today, I’m also saying this law, for Yaeli.”
Yaeli is autistic, something her father has spoken about multiple times throughout his political career.
The Bizchut Organization for People with Disabilities said it “is proud to have taken part, together with many others, in one of the most significant and ground-breaking legislation processes in Israel in the last few years.”
"When people ask me what my most important decision was in politics, I immediately say supplying free medication for Holocaust survivors, for my father. Today, I'm also saying this law, for Yaeli."Foreign Minister Yair Lapid
“This historical move proves once again how significant the voices of people with disabilities, their families and the civil organizations are in legislation processes and decision-making. Thanks to this cooperation, the law anchors the essential rights of people with disabilities to autonomous and independent lives in a community.”