Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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12 Shevat 5760 - January 19, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Knesset Labor and Welfare Committee Approves Benefits For Large Families

by E. Rauchberger

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 said.

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.

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