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      Vicky Meets Netanyahu

      The much-publicized walk of Vicky Knafu, 43, beginning in the Negev town Mitzpeh Ramon and ending in Jerusalem - some 200 kilometers over the course of a week - has culminated with an official meeting with Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.



      First Publish: 7/10/2003, 8:53 PM


      The much-publicized walk of Vicky Knafu, 43, beginning in the Negev town Mitzpeh Ramon and ending in Jerusalem - some 200 kilometers over the course of a week - has culminated with an official meeting with Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

      Knafu, the single mother of three children from ages 7 to 22, made the walk in protest of the sharp cuts to her welfare payments. As a part-time cook for local kindergartens, she earns 1,200 shekels a month, receives another 600 for child support from her ex-husband, and - until now - received 2,500 as supplemental income from the government; that sum has now been cut to 1,300. She says that the total of 3,100 monthly shekels is simply not enough to support her family - and that tens of thousands of other single mothers are in a similar plight.

      Knafu, whose march earned her tremendous media attention, said after her meeting with Netanyahu that he was "very attentive, but did not provide us with any solutions. He said that his people would be searching for ways to help us. Until now, however, what he has offered [aid for day-care and university studies] is like nuts for the toothless; I don't need day-care centers, nor do I need university studies..."

      Ran Yeshai, an aide to Finance Minister Netanyahu who participated in the meeting, told Arutz-7 afterwards that this meeting was more significant than the brief one Netanyahu had with her on Monday night shortly after she arrived in Jerusalem. "Today we had professionals taking part," Yeshai said, "who could really analyze the numbers and the demands... The next stage is for the Finance Ministry experts to convene, probably even today, to decide what things can be changed, and tomorrow there will be a ministerial meeting to make whatever decisions need to be made..."

      Yeshai said that the purpose of the emergency economic plan is "to make it easier for the country, which means for all its citizens. On the one hand, a country cannot be allowed to go bankrupt, while on the other hand, the welfare of its individual citizens is an integral part of this picture... It must be clear that there is not enough money; if we give more money in one direction, then it has to be taken from somewhere else... We have raised some ideas that have to do with re-dividing up certain allocations, and for this we have to meet with the recipients..."

      Nadia Matar, leader of the grassroots nationalist movement Women in Green, has organized hundreds of marches and demonstrations over the years, yet has never received as much press attention as did Vicky Knafu this week. "I have nothing against Vicky Knafu," Matar told Arutz-7 today, "and in fact I am in favor of her 'mother's cry.' ...But the bottom line is that if the media like you and your message, you'll get coverage, and if not, not."