Netanyahu presents stimulus plan
Netanyahu presents stimulus plan Kobi Gideon/GPO

The Israeli government on Sunday approved Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s economic stimulus plan, aimed at boosting the Israeli economy during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has sparked one of the worst recessions in Israeli history.

All but two ministers, both from the Blue and White party, voted in favor of the plan Sunday afternoon, which would spend roughly 6.5 billion shekels ($1.93 billion) to give cash grants to every Israeli citizen.

Michael Biton and Orit Farkash HaCohen were the only two to vote against the plan.

Based on Netanyahu’s original plan, every Israeli adult will receive 750 shekels ($220), with each household receiving an additional 500 additional shekels ($147) for every child, up to and including their third child, for a maximum of 3,000 shekels ($879).

At the behest of Economy Minister Amir Peretz (Labor) and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White), however, the plan was increased, offering an extra 750 shekels ($220) to some 830,000 people who already receive government benefits including the disabled, pensioners, and recent immigrants.

In addition, it was agreed that anyone whose income exceeds 651,000 shekels a year ($190,650) will not receive money from the stimulus package.

Following the green-lighting of the bill by the government, the coalition is expected to push for the stimulus plan’s rapid passage in the Knesset Monday.

The government hopes to implement the plan and distribute the money by the end of this week.

The stimulus plan payments will be transferred automatically to all citizens whose details are registered with the National Insurance Institute. The National Insurance Institute will contact those citizens whose bank account details the NII does not have in order to provide for transfer of the grant.

Earlier on Sunday, Netanyahu said the stimulus plan would “move the wheels of the economy” and help people “get back to being employed”.

Israel’s unemployment rate, which soared in March and April during the first wave of the coronavirus and government restrictions from 3.9% in February to 24.8% by May, fell to roughly 20% a month later.

It has since slowly increased, however, rising to 21.4%.