Netanyahu's Office: Agreement Reached on Increased Disability Benefits

Pact said to give handicapped additional 4.2 billion shekels beginning in 2021

The Masorti Movement in Israel

An agreement had been reached resolving the dispute with disabled protesters about government disability benefits, the Prime Minister’s Office announced Monday.

Although not all of the details of the agreement were available at press time, the agreement is said to provide for additional disability benefits of 4.2 billion shekels ($1.2 billion) beginning in 2021. From the following year, the benefits will be linked to the average wage in the country.

Earlier in the day representatives of 32 groups of the disabled set up a protest encampment opposite Finance Minister Kahlon’s home in Haifa. The demonstrators objected to an earlier government plan to boost disability benefits that had been agreed to by other representatives of the disabled population. That agreement provided for a gradual increase in disability payments 3,100 shekels per month.

The new agreement was reached following a conference call involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in Moscow at the time; Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Labor and Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Haim Katz; National Economic Council chairman Avi Simhon; and Histadrut labor federation chairman Avi Nissenkorn.

A bill enshrining the agreement will be submitted to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation for its approval on Tuesday. Approval by the committee signifies the support for the bill by the governing coalition. Because the coalition has a majority in the Knesset, the committee’s support generally assures passage of legislation. A spokesman for the Histadrut labor federation confirmed that an agreement had been reached that was acceptable to all of those involved.

About two weeks ago, a confrontation broke out between Finance Ministry director general Shai Babad and Labor Minister Katz at a meeting considering legislation to increase benefits. Babad said he could only agree to increase benefits by a little more than 2 billion shekels a year, adding that the Finance Ministry was unable to budget anything beyond that. Katz, on the other hand, was demanding increases costing 4.2 billion shekels per year, the amount that has been agreed to beginning in 2021.