Background: The history of survivors' pensions in Israel

The most poorly compensated half of the estimated 250,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel who are entitled to monthly pensions, 52%, receive payments of NIS 1,200 to NIS 1,600. Under the first compensation agreement between Israel and Germany, signed in 1953, Germany gave Israel $750 million in goods and services for the absorption of Holocaust survivors and to help the young state. Germany conditioned the agreement on the renunciation of any future claims by Israeli survivors and their family members. In 1956, Germany passed a law according to which a survivor who was not an Israeli citizen on the day the 1953 agreement was signed can claim compensation from Germany for any disability incurred during the Hitler era. Survivors had until 1969 to submit claims under the legislation. In 1957, the Knesset passed the Nazis Persecutions Disabled Law, which allowed Holocaust survivors to apply for disability pensions from the state. No time limit was set to apply since survivors who lived in the former Soviet Union were not able to present their claims against Germany before the 1969 deadline. The Department for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled was established in the Finance Ministry to deal with the claims. Israel has paid the Holocaust survivors' pensions with funds from the state budget ever since the German money ran out, a Finance Ministry spokesman said. In October 1992, another compensation agreement was signed between Germany and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany. This agreement included payments to Holocaust survivors who had never received any compensation. Under this law, 20,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel receive monthly "Renta" pensions from Germany as a compensation for physical disability and loss of employability. In additional, some 25,000 survivors get monthly German "Clause 2 Fund" payments under the 1992 law. Israel pays Holocaust compensation to a total of 51,000 Israelis. The Department for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled is expected to have a budget in 2008 of between NIS 1.8 billion and 1.75b., up from NIS 1.6b. in 2007, not including the planned addition of NIS 83 to NIS 100 per survivor per month. The department pays monthly pensions ranging from NIS 1,040 to 6,500, depending on the level of disability, to Holocaust survivors on the basis of three laws: the Nazis Persecutions Disabled Law (43,000 beneficiaries), the Disabled from the War against the Nazis Law (8,000), and the Needy Survivors Benefits Law (10,000). As mentioned above, 52%, receive NIS 1,200-NIS 1,600. Another 22.4% receive NIS 1,600-NIS 2,000, 3.1% NIS 2,000-NIS 2,200 and 10.6% get NIS 2,200-NIS 2,600. Five percent of the Holocaust survivors collect a monthly pension of NIS 2,600-NIS 3,000, 1% NIS 3,000-NIS 4,200 and 5.7% NIS 4,200-NIS 6,000. All survivors who receive their pensions from Israel are entitled to benefits such as reduced taxes, subsidized housing, health care and medication, psychological assistance and more. Survivors who receive Renta pensions from Germany are not entitled for these benefits.