Monthly Archives: June 2020

Israel Decides on NIS 2 Billion Plan to Assist Self-Employed and Business Sector

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel — June 29, 2020 … Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yisrael Katz, today decided on a new approximately NIS 2 billion plan to assist the self-employed and the business sector, which will be put into effect in the coming days.

The plan includes special grants of up to NIS 400,000 for Israeli businesses that were affected by Coronavirus up to at least 60 percent in May-June, for up to 10-15 percent of turnover, with turnover of up to NIS 20 million. It was also decided to expand the circle of businesses that will receive the assistance, to businesses the turnover of which is up to NIS 100 million and which were hurt by up to at least 80 percent in these months.

Self-employed with an annual turnover of NIS 300,000 will also receive an additional monetary grant, double that which they received in the first phase. Also, the criteria for receiving advances will be changed from 20 percent to 40 percent relative to the previous phase. It was also decided to continue giving higher grants to businesses that kept workers despite the Coronavirus crisis.

The plan currently being put forward by Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Finance Minister Katz is part of a comprehensive policy for managing the crisis. Alongside the acceleration of the economy, independent wage-earners and businesses that need assistance will receive an appropriate response. The plan is designed to facilitate the immediate channeling of significant funds to the self-employed and the business sector, without delays and unnecessary impediments, thereby enabling them to weather the crisis. The foregoing is in addition to the allocation of NIS 7,500 grants for every employee who is returned to work.

The state budget and a comprehensive arrangements law will be submitted soon. The latter will provide for competition vis-à-vis the major monopolies and for reforms to remove impediments and regulation, and which will assist economic activity and lead to renewed economic growth.

The Coronavirus pandemic slammed Israel’s economy for some two months. Businesses have largely reopened over the past month, but many continue to struggle with severely reduced work.

Israel’s unemployment rates also remain very high, at 21 percent — only somewhat better than the 27 percent peak at the height of the pandemic. These include some 862,000 unemployed and 605,000 on unpaid leave. In February, unemployment had been at a record low of 3.4%.

Netanyahu: Coronavirus Still A Danger In Israel; Iran Continues To Create Nuclear Bomb

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel — June 7, 2020 … Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks, today at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:

“In the world today there are almost seven million people infected with the coronavirus, which has now claimed the lives of approximately 400,000 people. Also in our region, the situation has not improved. In addition to Iran and Turkey, which together have several tens of thousands dead, we have also witnessed recently a sharp increase in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia opened mosques and then closed them in light of this outbreak. Even here in Israel, we have seen a sharp increase in rates of infection in recent days. As I have constantly said: The virus is here. It is not a figment of either my imagination or of anyone else’s. Countries that reduced the assessment of danger regarding the pandemic and adopted a very lenient and very liberal policy understood that they have no choice but to take steps and impose restrictions that we took at the outset, after they have absorbed thousands of dead.”

“Whoever said at the outset that there was no danger in Israel or that there is no danger now, misled the public and encouraged behavior that endangered both the public health and the lives of many people. Part of the clear increase in the rate of infection that we have seen in Israel in the past eight days stems from – and it was expected – from the measures we enacted to ease restrictions in order to open up our economy. But some of it also clearly stems from a loosening in strict adherence to the rules regarding masks, distancing and hygiene.”

“Even if we neutralize the outbreak at the Hebrew Gymnasia [high school] in Jerusalem and the outbreak in the schools, we see a clear increase in considerable sections of the country and of the population. Therefore, I am convening the Corona Cabinet tomorrow morning. We will consider the necessary steps in light of the upsurge in the pandemic, including in schools, public transportation and in other areas as well.”

“At the same time, this week we will hold a meeting with the Israeli Finance Minister and his professional people, and with all of the economic ministers, at which we will be updated on the steps we have taken to put people back to work and the necessary steps to help small businesses and businesses in general to go back to routine activity.”

“There are preliminary encouraging signs of economic recovery; we see this. Businesses and restaurants are opening, sometimes too many. We see this recovery, but its continuation depends on you, citizens of Israel.”

Today, the Israeli Defense Minister, Health Minister and myself will go to the Israel Institute for Biological Research in Nes Ziona where we will be updated on the progress in efforts to find a vaccine. We all hope and pray that these efforts will succeed, but it is impossible to build on them – not on these and not on what is occurring at the other institutes and companies around the world. We all need to understand that we are expected to live in the coronavirus routine for a long time. With being strict about wearing masks, distancing and hygiene, we will be unable to meet our goals or put the economy back on track. Therefore, I ask you – strictly follow the rules for health, for life and for jobs.”

“In this context, today we will discuss the corona law, which is designed to balance between the need to take rapid steps to halt the pandemic and the need to the individual rights that are dear to us all.”

“Over the weekend, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) determined that Iran had refused to allow IAEA inspectors access to clandestine sites at which Iran had carried out secret military nuclear activity.”

“Iran has systematically violated its commitments by hiding sites and enriching fissionable material, and has committed other violations. I believe that the time has come, and I think that the time has passed, but reality certainly requires it in the light of these revelations, for the international community to join the US and reimpose paralyzing sanctions on Iran.”

“In any case, the coronavirus has not lessened by one iota our determination to act against Iran’s aggression. I reiterate: Israel will not allow Iran to achieve nuclear weapons and will continue to act methodically against Iran’s attempts to militarily entrench on our borders.”

Netanyahu concludes: “What happened with Iyad Al-Halak is a tragedy. This was a man with disabilities, autism, who was suspected – we know wrongly – of being a terrorist in a very sensitive place. I know that the inquiries are being made. We all share in the family’s sorrow. I think that this embraces the entire Israeli public, as well as the entire Israeli government. I await your full inquiries on this matter. Of course, this does not justify the wild assault on former MK Yehidah Glick, and I am certain that justice will be done here as well.”