PM promises to redraft aid package for Shoah survivors

Half a dozen organizations to present Olmert with suggestions for new sum at meeting.

survivors march 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
survivors march 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will work with the Welfare and Social Services Ministry and organizations representing Holocaust survivors to come up with a new aid package, a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister's Office said on Monday. By Wednesday, officials from half a dozen organizations including The Holocaust Survivors' Welfare Fund, the Center of Organizations for Holocaust Survivors in Israel, and the Tafnit Party will present Olmert with their suggestions. Officials from the Justice, Finance and Welfare ministries will also take part in the meeting. "The prime minister will consider all the options and come up with a new offer for the survivors," the spokeswoman said. "It seems clear that the current plan will not stand and a new offer will be made to the survivors shortly." On Sunday, 2,500 people marched from the Knesset's Wohl Rose Garden to the nearby Prime Minister's Office to protest the additional NIS 83 a month stipend that the government currently plans to provide Holocaust survivors in 2008. Several dozen survivors took part in the emotional protest, which succeeded in pressuring the Prime Minister's Office into holding late night meetings with Treasury and Welfare Ministry officials to reexamine the budget for the survivors. According to government estimates, there are more than 240,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel. The Center of Organizations for Holocaust Survivors says that 10,000 to 15,000 survivors live below the poverty line. The Prime Minister's Office said most of the impoverished survivors missed the deadline for applying for reparations from Germany and that Israel law only provided money to survivors who were not eligible for the funds from Germany. "In a sense they fell through the system. They are the main group that our office is seeking to help," said the spokeswoman said. "The simplest thing is for the government to just do what its own committee recommended," said Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, chairman of the Tafnit Party. "All the interfighting between the organizations is not moving the issue forward." Last month, an interministerial committee outlined a plan for how the government should provide for the survivors, including a NIS 1,000 per month stipend and a broad health care package. The panel defined a survivor in the broadest possible terms, as "anyone who survived the Nazi-era regime." Several organizations are asking the government to revaluate that definition, and instead to divide the survivors into two groups, those who lived through the Holocaust and those who fled before the Nazi regime arrived in their countries. The survivors would be given a larger stipend than those who fled.