By RUTH EGLASH

Minister of Welfare and Social Services Isaac Herzog will present to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday a new plan to ensure increased financial aid and general assistance to Israel’s estimated 260,000 Holocaust survivors.

Organizations working with the elderly believe that more than 40 percent of Israel’s Holocaust survivors live below the poverty line, with many of those who arrived in the state over the past 15 years failing to qualify for financial aid via German reparations or Israel’s standard Holocaust law, which only defines as survivors those who were direct victims of Nazi concentration camps or ghettos.

A spokeswoman for the minister told The Jerusalem Post that following the recent Holocaust Remembrance Day, when attention was raised to the plight faced by many survivors here, Herzog decided to take on the responsibility for improving their situation. In the past, the Finance Ministry – and not the Welfare and Social Services Ministry – was in charge of distributing aid.

Herzog’s plan includes an increase to the overall annual budget and a raise in the monthly stipends for all survivors whose incomes are below a certain level, as well as improvements to health provisions, increased rental subsidies and physical and emotional support.