Justice Minister Tzipi Livni announced Sunday that she would sponsor a law that would provide free legal help to Holocaust survivors who are seeking to reclaim property or benefits they were supposed to have received, but didn't. The announcement came in the wake of data that said that many Holocaust survivors were living in poverty.
Until now, survivors were eligible for free legal help to reclaim rights and property only if they could pass a means test, with only the poorest receiving help. The new law will grant free legal help to all survivors. “The correction to this law will significantly increase the number of Holocaust survivors who will be able to receive free legal help, and will help cut the process of receiving legal assistance in order to enable them to receive their legal rights,” Livni's office said in a statement.
Livni's announcement was the second one Sunday offering assistance to survivors. Earlier, Finance Minister Yair Lapid announced that he would provide an additional NIS 100 million per year for the next four years to benefit survivors. Lapid revealed his plan during Sunday’s Cabinet meeting. “We will not stand idly by” as survivors advance to old age in poverty, Lapid said. Speaking at the meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said “we have a deep obligation to the elderly in general, and to Holocaust survivors in particular. We are obligated first and foremost to ensure their welfare, their security and their welfare.”
Meanwhile, according to Micha Harish, head of the government corporation that seeks out and returns property to Holocaust survivors and their families, the committee had tracked down at least a billion shekel's worth of cash and property belonging to Holocaust victims. NIS 300 million of these assets had been transferred to survivors or their heirs. According to Harish, the corporation will step up efforts to distribute the assets it has identified. The corporation, established several years ago by the Knesset, is set to be disbanded in four years.