Reservists Win Some Benefits, Other Aid Quashed

A ministerial committee on reservists yesterday approved a number of benefits for Israelis who do reserve duty.

However, most of the issues under discussion were dropped after opposition by the Finance Ministry and other officials.

Among the items dropped were tax breaks, with an estimated value of thousands of shekels a year, and discounts on municipal taxes.

The value of the benefits is estimated at a few tens of million of shekels.

To receive the benefits, which go into effect in March, reservists must be on active duty at least 10 days a year.

Those who qualify will receive a 50-percent discount on the cost of applying for an identity card, passport or gun license, and will not have to pay the driver's license fee.

Reserve duty will be considered social action for university students, which makes them eligible for scholarship money. Students in academic preparatory programs will enjoy reduced tuition.

The committee also decided that government-subsidized mortgages will be increased, and reservists will be given priority in the purchase of land rights from the Israel Lands Administration. They will also receive grants to renovate their homes.

Roi Ron, head of the Baltam reservists organization, said that "this is a ridiculous and infuriating attempt to use the term 'benefits for reservists' as a cover for doing nothing."