A large majority of the Knesset Labor and Welfare Committee
approved a bill submitted by UTJ MK Rabbi Shmuel Halpert last
week containing new benefits for large families. Despite the
opposition of the Finance Ministry, the bill was approved and
will be presented to the Knesset for a first reading.
Rabbi Halpert said that he has been trying to pass such a law
for many years. He noted that the recent poverty report said
that out of the million citizens below the poverty level in
Israel, 400 thousand are children. Poverty in Israel is found
mainly in large families.
Rabbi Halpert turned to representatives of the Finance
Ministry who sharply opposed the proposal, and said that
monies of the National Security (Bituach Leumi) are public
funds and do not belong to the Treasury. "NIS 18 billion
which have amassed in the Children's Department of the
National Insurance Institute belong to the public. With only
NIS 1 billion, it is possible to extricate hundreds of
thousands of children from the circle of poverty," he
He stressed that since this is a social issue of the highest
priority, he doesn't understand the Finance Ministry's
opposition. Implementation of this proposal would save the
State huge expenses for underprivileged children in the
future, he explained, and would also prevent the creation of
second and third generations of welfare cases.
"Investing in children is an economically sound venture of
the highest priority, and the Finance Ministry must support
it," Rabbi Halpert said.
At the end of the deliberation it was decided to approve the
proposal with a number of changes. The legal advisor of the
Labor and Welfare Committee was charged with preparing the
proposed law for a first reading. Chairman of the Committee,
David Tal (Shas) said that he would make efforts to advance
the proposal because of its importance.
The main clauses which were approved are: 1) Families will
receive children's allotments for each child up until the age
of 21 (currently 18); 2) Large families will receive doubled
birth grants starting from the fifth child; 3) The Children's
Allotment will be increased by 50% from the sixth child on;
4)Large families will receive standard, scaled deductions on
property tax according to the number of their children.
Rabbi Halpert noted that this proposal is completely general
and applies to all large families, whether Ashkenazi,
Sephardic, Jew or Arab. It is not a special law for the
chareidi community and should enjoy the support of all those
who champion social welfare.