Israeli cabinet approves grants for unemployed, business owners affected by COVID-19

Israel’s cabinet approved on Sunday grants for the unemployed, self-employed and business owners amid growing public criticism over the government’s handling of the coronavirus economic crisis.

The Prime Minister’s Office and the Finance Ministry said in a joint statement that in “the next few days” the government will transfer up to 7,500 shekels (about 2,169 U.S. dollars) to the bank accounts of the unemployed, self-employed, people on furlough and business owners who were hurt by the coronavirus restrictions and lockdown.

Finance Minister Israel Katz will advance new bills aiming at launching a national rescue plan for businesses and increasing government expenditure in order to finance the cost of the plan, according to the statement.

Netanyahu has announced an 80-billion-shekel national rescue plan to provide an “economic safety net” to the unemployed people and business owners affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The economic crisis in Israel has been deepening, with unemployment rising over 20 percent.

Many Israelis think Netanyahu’s government has not done enough to help people who lost their jobs and livelihood due to the restrictions and lockdown. The long-time leader has seen his popularity dropping in opinion polls published last week in local media.