Israelis go shopping in the Malha Mall in Jerusalem on March 15, 2009. The mall, which opened in 1993, has 260 stores on three levels with a shopping area of 37,000 m². It is one of seven malls built in Israel by David Azrieli. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Israel Katz on Sunday announced the extension of unemployment benefits and the abolition of several customs duties and purchase taxes, as part of the new government’s attempt to revitalize the country’s economy.

The announcement was made in a joint videotaped statement on Sunday night. The idea behind the measures, Netanyahu said, is to “propel the economy, to get the wheels moving.”

Katz added that alongside the long-term plan to rescue the economy, “We decided on a number of measures to make it easier for the public in the meantime.”

The most important of these, he said, is the “extension of the time period for young people in particular … to be eligible to collect unemployment [payments].”

The second, he said — in an apparent reference to former Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s “Net Family” plan — is making permanent a series of temporary tax cuts slated to expire on June 16.

The cuts on customs duties and purchase tax will apply to cellphones and other electronic devices, electrical appliances, clothing and footwear, baby products, toys, perfume and cosmetics.

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused a spike in unemployment, which soared from four% in Israel prior to the coronavirus outbreak to 26% by the end of April. JN

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