Paratroopers in training.
Israel news photo: Flash 90
The Yisrael Beitenu party headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman took credit Sunday for last minute changes made in the list of socio-economic reforms that the Cabinet approved, including benefits for newly discharged IDF veterans and for "working families." The party had insisted upon the changes as a condition for voting in favor of the reforms recommended by the Trajtenberg Committee
Yisrael Beitenu announced that thanks to its insistence, the discharge grant paid to soldiers – especially combat soldiers who completed a full term of service – would grow from the current 9,500 shekels to a sum of up to 20,000 shekels. The change will take effect gradually, and be completed in 2016.
Discharge grants for soldiers in combat support roles, home front roles and volunteers in the National Service will also be enlarged.
In addition, families in which both parents work, "single parent families" in which the parent works, and individuals who work, will receive clear preference in low cost housing projects on state land. Most of the apartments will be marketed to families and individuals who fall under these criteria. This is seen as coming at the expense of hareidi families, many of which have low incomes and are blessed with a relatively large number of children, but often include one parent who is not employed in a paying job.
The government accepted Yisrael Beitenu's economic plan, the party said, and intends to market 180,000-200,000 housing units. The contractors will be obligated to build at least 20% of the apartments – 35,000-40,000 units in all – for long term rental. These "affordable" apartments will be no larger than 85 square meters.
Four thousand units designated as "social housing" will be built in the course of the next three years.
If the Knesset approves the reforms and Yisrael Beitenu gains popularity, this will be an ironic outcome for many of the organizers of the summer-long demonstrations that resulted in the establishment of the Trajtenberg Committee. The protest leaders were mostly left-of-center and would probably not have wanted Lieberman's hawkish party to benefit from their summer's labors.