SLA vets in Israel to get NIS 80m.

The Knesset Finance Committee on Monday approved payment of about NIS 80 million in "appreciation grants" to veterans of the South Lebanon Army remaining in Israel, implementing decisions made in earlier legislation. "Until now the SLA veterans have not even received certificates of appreciation, and now they will have grants in addition to certificates," said Labor MK Isaac Herzog, who was the major proponent of the legislation. SLA veterans will receive a flat NIS 40,000 grant, in addition to an amount equivalent to three times the salary earned by each veteran during his service in the militia prior to Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon. On average, the additional amount comes to NIS 80,000, bringing the total grant to roughly NIS 120,000 per SLA veteran. Of the 2,500 SLA veterans and family members who crossed into Israel following the summer 2000 pullout, only 650 remain in the country. The total amount will be paid to each veteran over seven years, counting from the original legislation's passage at the end of 2004, adjusted for inflation and interest. NIS 16,800 will be given to each veteran for each of the first two years, and the remaining amount will be divided into a monthly stipend spread over the following five years. To date, SLA veterans benefited only from a housing allowance provided by virtue of an emergency government decision that requires yearly approval. The Finance Committee also called on the government to find a more permanent arrangement, ahead of the annual expiry of the housing allowance on March 1.