Olmert presents bill to increase payments to Holocaust survivors

Gov't would pay 75% of what Germany paid in reparations, as opposed to 47% before.

Holocaust survivor 224 (photo credit: AP)
Holocaust survivor 224
(photo credit: AP)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert received praise Tuesday after he decided to present a bill to the Knesset for approval that would raise the monthly state stipend for 40,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel. After the increase, the Israeli government would be paying 75 percent of what the German government paid the survivors in reparations, while they had been paying only 47% of that amount until now, said Noach Flug, chairman of The Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel. Some had been receiving only 25%. The survivors had been receiving a minimum of NIS 1,080 a month from the government, a figure that would rise to a minimum of NIS 1,800. "I think this is very important," said Flug. "They've corrected something from the past." The decision follows recommendations made by the State Committee for Holocaust Survivors, headed by retired Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner, which called for using 75% of the yearly reparations paid by the German government to Israel to supplement payments to survivors. The center, which has been at the forefront of these negotiations, applauded Olmert's decision. Uri Chanoch, a survivor of Dachau and board member of the center, said that survivors had been waiting to get benefits from the Israeli government since the German government stopped paying reparations in 1969. The Israeli government has delayed increasing the stipend for years, said Chanoch, who will be representing survivors in upcoming discussions with the government. "I will give some credit. We got money for the poor survivors. Now the question is the speed of the implementation," Chanoch said. If the bill is passed as Olmert gives it to the Knesset, the increase will be retroactive from January 1, 2008. In 2009, the government will fund NIS 2 billion to Holocaust survivors, according to a press release, compared to NIS 1.75b. last year. Most recipients of state aid were imprisoned in labor camps, concentration camps, and ghettos. Others escaped from Europe to Israel during World War II.