Jerusalemites, wearing face masks for fear of the coronavirus, shop at the Malha Mall in Jerusalem in Jerusalem on July 29, 2020. Israel has seen a spike of new COVID-19 cases bringing the authorities to reimpose restrictions to halt the spread of the virus. 

Israel’s Knesset on Wednesday unanimously approved an NIS 6.5 billion ($1.9 million) coronavirus stimulus plan, with the aim of helping struggling citizens and boosting the slumped economy. The funds are slated to begin reaching eligible citizens starting on Sunday.

The plan is an amended version of the one originally put forward by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and will exclude those earning high incomes and provide additional funds for the needy and those with large families.

“Just as I promised you, the Knesset has now approved the plan for a grant for every citizen that I initiated. The money will reach your bank accounts, citizens of Israel, by the beginning of next week,” said Netanyahu in response to the news, according to a statement from his office.

“This is another step that will make things easier for you and will move the wheels of our economy. We have taken many such steps worth many billions: The safety nets for businesses and wage-earners, extending the eligibility period for unemployment compensation, the unpaid leave and more, and there will be more, because we must and can defeat the coronavirus together.”

The measure underwent several revisions since first being unveiled by Netanyahu on July 15. Under pressure from the Arab and ultra-Orthodox parties, Israeli Finance Minister Israel Katz agreed Tuesday to increase the amount paid to large families under the plan.

Under the original stimulus plan, all Israelis aged 18 and over were to receive a one-time payment of NIS 750 ($218). Couples with one child were to receive NIS 2,000 ($583), rising to NIS 2,500 ($729) for those with two children and NIS 3,000 ($875) for those with three or more.

In the revised plan, families will receive NIS 500 ($146) for each of their first four children, and another NIS 300 ($87) from the fifth child onward. JN

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