(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Government representatives met today (10 October 2007) with representatives of the roof organizations of Holocaust survivors, led by Noah Flug, and submitted a plan to change and improve income support payments for the needy elderly. The government was represented by Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Director General Ra’anan Dinur, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry Director General Nahum Itskovitz, National Economics Council (NEC) Chairman Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, Pensioners Affairs Ministry Director General Dr. Avi Bitzur and Finance Ministry representatives

According to the proposed plan, which is based on directives from Prime Minister Olmert, the State would allocate an overall sum of approximately NIS 1.5 billion to address the needs of the elderly.  Of this sum, NIS 1 billion would be added as a universal supplement to all elderly support payments and approximately NIS 500 million would be allocated for the needy elderly including those Holocaust survivors defined as ‘second circle.’

At a 19 August 2007 meeting with Prime Minister Olmert the sides agreed to provide extensive support to ‘first circle’ Holocaust survivors, defined as survivors of the camps and ghettoes.  It was later decided to find a proper response as well for ‘Holocaust refugees’ (the "second circle") in the framework of assistance to the country’s needy elderly.

Following comprehensive work carried out by the NEC and an interministerial team chaired by PMO Dir. Gen. Dinur, it was decided to allocate an additional NIS 500 million for the needy elderly in Israel.  The supplement will be relative and will depend on variables such as age and residence ownership.  Thus, elderly who belong to the weakest population will receive the greatest assistance, which will enable them to enjoy a respectable daily life.

The PMO views the plan as a proper response to the plight of those in the second circle of Holocaust survivors as part of the effort to improve the overall situation of the needy elderly in Israel.  This plan is consistent with Prime Minister Olmert’s socio-economic outlook, which views the reduction of poverty in Israel as an important goal.  It is also consistent with the need to provide greater assistance to the needy elderly than they have hitherto received in the support payment framework.

Following the presentation of the various alternatives today, Prime Minister Olmert will hold a discussion next week with Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Yitzhak Herzog and Pensioners Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan in order to approve the plan formulated by the ministerial team.