Survivors to get more money in September

43,000 survivors are not eligible for compensation payments from German gov't because of restitution agreement signed by Israel and Germany in 1953.

Some 43,000 Holocaust survivors will receive the first installment of their increased monthly grant, as recommended by the Dorner State Commission of Inquiry, by the end of September, according to a cabinet decision approved on Sunday. The cabinet endorsed the key recommendations of the Dorner Commission, including one calling on the cabinet to increase the monthly payments of citizens who arrived in Israel before October 1953 so they would equal 75 percent of the compensation payments made by the German government to other survivors who suffered at the hands of the Nazis. These 43,000 survivors are not eligible for compensation payments from the German government because of the restitution agreement signed by Israel and Germany in 1953. In return for restitution payments by Germany to the State of Israel, the government promised the Germans it would take upon itself full responsibility for the welfare of all Holocaust survivors living in Israel at that time who otherwise would have been among those eligible for German compensation. According to the decision, the payment will be adjusted on May 1 of every year in accordance with the value of the euro at that time. Thus, if the German payment does not increase from one year to the next but the value of the euro increases vis-à-vis the shekel, the survivors will receive their payment in shekels according to the increased value of the euro. The government also instructed the finance minister to present the grant-increase order to the Knesset Finance Committee for approval by September 1 and asked the committee to approve it by September 10 "so as to enable the transfer of the payment to the survivors by the end of that month." The cabinet also instructed the Pensioners Affairs Ministry to negotiate with the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany (the Claims Conference) on a new covenant governing the relations between the Israeli government and the conference. It said the Claims Conference should use its funds to give direct assistance to Holocaust survivors in Israel, support social services and develop new ones primarily aimed at helping survivors. According to another provision, the Welfare and Social Services Ministry will establish a task force that will have 90 days to plan a system for informing all Holocaust survivors of all the benefits to which they are entitled. It also called on the Ministry of Health to appoint a task force to iron out the arrangements between the government and the health clinics regarding the rights of the survivors to subsidies for medicines so that they do not run into bureaucratic obstacles. Asked to comment, Health Ministry director-general Prof. Avi Yisraeli - a former Hadassah Medical Organization director-general - told The Jerusalem Post that he was "very happy" about the agreement. "While at Hadassah, I was a stepfather of this accord. It was even signed - but there was no collective agreement supporting it. Applying it in all Israeli public hospitals is on our agenda, and we raise it regularly with the Treasury, which opposes it," he said.