The Knesset unanimously approved on Monday the first reading a bill that gives orphans whose parents died in a terror attack lifelong benefits.
The bill, co-sponsored by MK Dalia Itzik (Kadima) and MK Zevulun Orlev (Jewish Home), equates the status of orphans whose two parents were murdered in acts of terrorism to the status of of widows and widowers who get benefits for life.
Following its approval, the bill was returned to the Knesset’s Labor and Social Affairs Committee, in order to prepare it for the second and third readings, so the legislation procession is completed by the end of the Knesset’s summer session.
In the past orphans lost their entitlement to benefits at the age of 21. A different law initiated by MKs Itzik and Orlev in 2008 saw the entitlement continue until the age of 27, after which the orphan would be eligible for partial benefits until the age of 37.
Monday’s approval of the latest bill in essence allowed Itzik and Orlev to finish the task they began three years ago.
In her remarks before the Knesset plenum on Monday, Itzik apologized to the orphans for it having taken so long for a law such as this to pass.
“I am sorry for what we did to you [the orphans],” she said. “We did not help you in time and did you a terrible injustice. There is no justification for Israel’s existence if we are not here for you. I hope that now we can look you in the eye and say that we fixed a little of the wrong done to you.
“These people, who paid the highest and dearest price, were abandoned by the state,” Itzik continued. “While others have received benefits and recognition, they were left on the side of the road and were forced to plead for help. This bill seeks to not only restore their dignity but to also to return to the State its beautiful face, which needs to embrace the orphans and not ostracize them.”
“The state has a moral obligation toward those orphans... The state must guarantee their financial future, and moreover, guarantee humane treatment of the orphans... [and] provide for their financial and emotional needs.”