Disabled protesters block main roads in Tel Aviv

Disabled protesters block main roads in Tel Aviv

In the wake of government decision to set up a second committee on disabled benefits, protesters reiterate demands for minimum wage

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

A Tel Aviv street empty of traffic as disabled protesters closed main thoroughfares to demand the minimum wage, May 18, 2017. (Stuart Davidovich)
A Tel Aviv street empty of traffic as disabled protesters closed main thoroughfares to demand the minimum wage, May 18, 2017. (Stuart Davidovich)

After blocking streets in Jerusalem last week to renew their campaign for disability benefits to be raised to the same level as the minimum wage, protesters stopped traffic flowing around the landmark Azrieli Center in Tel Aviv Thursday.

One protester was arrested, the Ynet news site reported.

In April, after a slew of protests, including a hunger strike, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced a 50 percent increase in monthly disability benefits for the over 200,000 Israelis who receive the financial assistance.

As a result of the NIS 4 billion ($1.1 billion) raise, those entitled to monthly disability benefits were due to receive NIS 3,800 ($1,035) a month, up from the NIS 2,342 ($640) they currently receive, phased in over a period of five years, according to Hebrew media reports.

Legislation was to link these allowances to the minimum wage.

The benefit program followed the recommendations of a committee established by a former finance ministry accountant general, Yaron Zelekha.

Last week, however, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Kahlon, Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz and coalition head David Biton, where it was decided that another committee would be established — this time led by Avi Simchon, chairman of the National Economic Council in the Prime Minister’s Office. The committee is expected to make initial recommendations within a month, the Ynet new site said.

As a result of the new committee, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation is also putting off any action, the Haaretz newspaper reported Monday.

One protester on the asphalt in Tel Aviv told Ynet, “I don’t have a life anyway, I don’t care if I’m run over. Maybe it’s preferable. Our lives are not lives. Someone will have to die for them to pay us attention.”

Another, Hania Zilberman, said, “I’m ashamed of our politicians. The Likud government is the least socially oriented.”

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