Netanyahu announces relief program
Netanyahu announces relief programKobi Gideon/GPO

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s financial relief and economic stimulus package will be expanded to cover households with more than three children.

The Knesset backed the stimulus plan in its initial vote Monday night, and is expected to be put up for its additional votes Tuesday.

Haredi lawmakers, however, have demanded that the government expand the stimulus plan and give additional money to larger families, dropping the three-child limit for stimulus funds.

At present, the stimulus plan guarantees grants for the first, second, and third children of a household, with no additional funds given for any children beyond the third.

The Likud has agreed to expand the program, coalition chairman Miki Zohar (Likud) said Tuesday, agreeing to expand the 500 shekel ($147) grant for the fourth child, with 250 shekels ($73) for the fifth child, and 100 shekels for the sixth child and above.

But haredi MKs have thus far rejected the offer, demanding 250 shekels for the sixth child and 166 shekels per child beyond that.

“I don’t accept that,” Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said Tuesday.

Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avidgor Liberman blasted the call to expand the stimulus program, and accused the government of capitulating to haredi pressure.

“Instead of supporting discharged soldiers and reserve soldiers who are working and paying taxes, once again the prime minister and the reserve prime minister [Gantz] have capitulated to the pressure of the haredi parties. That’s what happens when you’re afraid of [Shas chief Aryeh] Deri and [UTJ MK Moshe] Gafni.”

On Sunday, the government approved a modified version of Netanyahu’s plan, which would grant 750 shekels ($220) for every adult citizen, along with an additional 500 additional shekels ($147) for every child, up to and including their third child, for a maximum of 3,000 shekels ($879).

Under pressure from 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.