Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yisrael Katz presented a new economic rescue program Thursday evening to aid businesses which have been harmed by the coronavirus restrictions.
"The finance minister and I have been working on this plan around the clock so that you will get the money as quickly as possible. We are in the midst of a growing global storm that is affectng virtually every country," Netanyahu said.
Responding to criticism of the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis, Netanyahu said that "a balance has to be struck between protecting our health and opening up the economy. The decisions have been made through trial and error - as all governments have had to do."
"The steps we have taken have taken a heavy financial toll on us. We opened up the economy, but looking back we can say that the last phase was done too early. I take responsibility," the prime minister said.
"We did it because we listened to the distress of you, the citizens of Israel. I take responsibility. To the haredi community, I say: all decisions are made based on statistics. Citizens of Israel, I ask again for your cooperation. We ban weddings in order to prevent funerals. You can get married, but only at small weddings.
"Next week, up to NIS 7,500 will be given in advance to business owners. That is the immediate payment. If need be we will bring more [assistance plans] in the coming weeks," he pledged.
Netanyahu presented a wider economic rescue plan. The first component of the plan is a safety net for employees, with unemployment benefits being extended until June, 2021. The second component is a safety net for self-employed individuals and business owners affected by the restrictions.
Businesses which received assistance from the government in May will be eligible for the NIS 7,500 next week without any new conditions. In addition, certain small businesses will receive a grant of NIS 6,000 every two months.