Treasury blocking benefits to Holocaust survivors

Finance Ministry resisting implementation of law granting 200,000 elderly, Holocaust survivors discount on electricity

Nurit Pelter

The Finance Ministry is seeking to cancel plans to subsidize the electricity bill of some 200,000 elderly, many of whom Holocaust survivors.

The Treasury’s efforts clash with a bill past early this year that entitles all citizens aged over 62 and all Holocaust survivors to a 50 percent discount on every 400 kilowatts consumed. The bill saves Israel’s elderly up to NIS150 on average every two month.

Shoah survivors

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Although the bill was passed by the Knesset and garnered government support it was never implemented pending the formulation of a list of eligible individuals.

Under the bill, the National Insurance Institute was supposed to announce to 200,000 elderly their entitlement of a discount on electricity consumption starting this August.

The Treasury argues the plan is complicated as it requires the Electric Company to alter the meters in the homes of those entitled to the benefit.

“Those who want to help the poor should do so in a direct manner by granting them allowances and not through a strange discount,” Finance Ministry officials said.

Rights groups censured the Finance Ministry’s “foot-dragging,” saying thousands of elderly will not be able to keep their homes warm next winter.

“The real problem will surface in winter when Holocaust survivors will have to choose between food and heating,” activists in the Yedid advocacy organization said.

Gad Lior, David Regev, and Amir Ben-David contributed to this report