Netanyahu’s 6 billion payout plan runs into resistance

After widespread criticism, Netanyahu meeting with top ministers to figure out how to hand out 6 billion shekels in emergency grants promised last week.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Monday with his inner circle of economic ministers to figure out how to dole out 6 billion shekels ($1.75 billion) that he promised would already be in Israeli’s bank accounts.

Last Wednesday, Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yisrael Katz announced the handout to help Israelis cope with the economic ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Netanyahu promised that bank transfers of 750 shekels ($220) for individuals and up to 3,000 shekels ($875) for families would be distributed within 48 hours, saying he wanted to “quickly get it to all Israeli households.”

However, after the announcement it became clear that the two had not discussed the plan with finance officials, and criticism was leveled over their choice of a blanket grant that would put the same amount of money in the bank accounts of poor people and millionaires alike.

Netanyahu met Monday with Katz, Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Economy Minister Amir Peretz – termed the “super-economic cabinet” – to decide on two alternative methods of distributing the money, Maariv reported.

Labor Party leader Peretz proposed to divide the 6 billion into two payments, first a mandatory grant for each Israeli with an additional grant according to the recipient’s level of income, so that the emphasis will be on the lower income earners.

Katz reportedly wants to divide the money according to the level of income, so that high income earners would get less.

“One thing everyone agrees on: it will not be as it was presented at the press conference last week,” Maariv reported.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party continued his lambasting of the government, tweeting that Netanyahu and Gantz were “disconnected” from the people.

“The government has authorized the “super-economic” cabinet. That joins the corona cabinet, the reconciliation cabinet and the ‘we have no idea what we are doing cabinet,’ but the cabinet sounds great,” Lapid said.

In announcing the plan last week, Netanyahu claimed the funds would give an immediate boost to Israel’s pandemic-stricken economy.

“We must get the economy running again. People are sitting at home, they aren’t consuming,” Netanyahu said in response to claims that not everyone who receives the funds needs the assistance.