Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On officially endorsed the conclusion of the Dorner Commission on Holocaust survivors, Monday. The budget allocated to support aging survivors is consequently expected to rise by NIS 250 million.
The decision will affect approximately 40,000 survivors living in Israel. The basic welfare payment will be raised to reach 75 percent of the subsidy paid by the German government.
In 2009, survivors are expected to receive NIS 2 billion from the state, a sum reflecting the additions the government agreed to and the payments survivors were previously entitled to.
A budget cut across the board for all government ministries that was announced last week was meant to allow allocation of funds to implement the Dorner Commission recommendations.
Earlier Monday, retired Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner, who headed the commission, promised representatives of the Center for Holocaust Survivors’ Organizations that she would campaign for the implementation of the recommendations made by the state commission of inquiry she headed.
Dorner told the representatives, headed by Noah Flug, chairman of the Center for Holocaust Survivors’ Organizations, that although it was unusual for judges who have headed commissions of inquiry to remain involved in the subject of their investigation after completing their work, she would continue to do so because of the survivors’ special circumstances.
According to the reparations agreement Israel signed with Germany in 1952, it took upon itself to represent Holocaust survivors who made aliyah from 1953. Consequently, these survivors do not apply directly to Germany for payment but instead receive compensation from the reparations that Germany paid the state. This makes them completely dependent on the Israeli government for compensation.
Dorner and her committee estimated that the value of the German reparations amounted to NIS 61.5 billion in today’s terms and that the government had only paid NIS 38 billion to the survivors in grants and medical expenses. Thus, the government owed each of the 43,000 survivors between NIS 1.3 million and NIS 2.2 million, depending on how much the government had paid each individual survivor up until now.
The committee added that since it would be too great a burden on the treasury to repay the survivors what they are actually owed, the government should increase the payments to 75% of the compensation payments paid by the German government.
By DAN IZENBERG AND JPOST.COM STAFF