Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Israel Katz, formerly Transportation Minister, at the opening ceremony of the Ramon Airport near Eilat on January 21, 2019.

Israel will extend eligibility for unemployment benefits to those who lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday.

“I agreed with Finance Minister [Israel] Katz to extend the eligibility for unemployment compensation until the middle of August,” Netanyahu said in the statement.

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“This is part of the steps that we are taking to revive the economy and look after the self-employed and the unemployed. People need to make a living.”

The extension is to be again re-evaluated in mid-August.

The decision came after a meeting with the heads of the Bank of Israel and National Economic Council, and in light of data from the National Insurance Institute showing that nearly 470,000 Israelis stood to lose their unemployment benefits by August.

The decision is a reversal of an announcement made by the Finance Ministry last month, according to which benefits would not be extended past June.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdowns in mid-March, more than a million Israelis have lost their jobs or were put on unpaid leave, with the unemployment rate soaring from around four percent to more than 27 percent.

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