Israeli Holocaust survivors who held Romanian citizenship during World War II will be eligible for Romanian pensions, the government announced on Monday.
The development was the result of an agreement inked by Israel and Romania and is expected to provide approximately 7,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel with hundreds of additional shekels a month, according to the Center Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, a non-governmental umbrella body that represents 55 similarly-focused groups.
The Center Organizations began negotiations with the Romanian government approximately six years ago after Bucharest passed a law recognizing citizens who left after World War II as eligible for pensions.
From the end of the war until the passage of the law, Romanians who left the country lost their citizenship status and thus their right to pensions.
However, the crux of the negotiations – and the breakthrough announced Monday – was the clearing of red tape.
Colette Avital, former Knesset member and current chairwoman of the Center Organizations, told the Israel Hayom daily that the Romanian government had been requesting an “unacceptable list of documents that can no longer be obtained” to prove one’s eligibility for a Romanian pension.
In 2020, the Center Organizations reached an agreement with the Romanian government that enabled survivors to present official Israeli documentation that they survived the Holocaust. However, the Romanian national insurance agency refused to recognize the agreement, prompting the involvement of Israel’s Social Equality Ministry.
“Now, after another year-and-a-half of negotiations, the agreement has been signed and we can issue the necessary permits for the survivors,” Avital said.
Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen noted that this was the latest in a number of agreements reached to increase financial support for the aging Holocaust survivor population in Israel. In addition to increased outside funding — much of which is from German payments to survivors from various countries –the Israeli government allocated NIS 300 million ($89.27 million) to increase financial support for struggling Holocaust survivors.
Overall, she said, “these steps have enabled some Holocaust survivors to increase their monthly incomes by thousands of shekels. We will continue to act with full force on behalf of Holocaust survivors, and the older population in general, in Israel.”
Prime Minister Lapid also expressed his pride regarding the decision. “As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I am moved by the signing of this important agreement…Today we are correcting a longstanding injustice. This is our basic obligation as a society – to see to it that the survivors live out their lives in the best way possible.”