Lapid hails trailblazing law integrating disabled into the community

The prime minister recalled the difficulties he faced as the father of an autistic child at a conference presenting the landmark disabilities bill. 

By Debbie Reiss, World Israel News

Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Welfare and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen on Wednesday hailed a “historic” bill that enshrines the rights of people with disabilities, providing them with the support, financial and otherwise, to lead independent lives.

According to Lapid, the Social Services Law for People with Disabilities would increase assistance for adults with disabilities and their families and decrease the bureaucracy involved in doing so.

Lapid, whose daughter Yael has autism, has been a fierce advocate for the law’s passage for several years.

“When Yaeli was five and we were completely worn out, there was something that I did not grasp – that one day she would be 21, and on that day the State of Israel would say: ‘I am done. This is no longer my problem,'” Lapid said at a conference presenting the bill on Monday at the Shalva National Center for the disabled.

“This is now being changed. The State of Israel is telling people with disabilities and their families: ‘We are not done. We are dealing with this together,'” he added.

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“”Every person with a disability is different. All disabilities are different. However, they also have something in common: The need for help, the tiredness of the parents, the fact that we are all fed up with the runaround between authorities, the fact that nobody fully understands our rights and that we end up doing everything ourselves,” the prime minister said.

When the government announced the allocation of NIS 2 billion ($595 million) for people with disabilities in May, Lapid, who was then foreign minister, broke down in tears.

Cohen hailed the government’s decision, saying that people with disabilities would no longer be separated from the community.

“This is a historic moment for the community of people with disabilities and their families. No longer are they ‘out of sight, out of mind,'” he said.

“Within a short time, people with disabilities will live among us and be inseparable from us. Israel is taking its place among the most advanced countries in integrating people with disabilities into the community in accordance with the UN treaty,” he said.

The first-of-its-kind bill was finally passed unanimously last month after nine years.

Among other rights, it will see people with disabilities move from hostels into independent apartments, with assistance if needed, within the wider community. Those eligible will also receive a basket of services, including a social worker, transportation, assistance with employment, and vocational courses.

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There are 1.6 million people registered with disabilities in Israel, including 326,000 children, according to the Justice Ministry’s Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities.