Israel unveils £20bn Covid-19 rescue package amid second wave lockdown
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Israel unveils £20bn Covid-19 rescue package amid second wave lockdown

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out desperate plan to help those affected by the spike in cases as thousands plan to protest this weekend

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, wearing a face mask in line with public health restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic . (Ronen Zvulun/ Pool Photo via AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, wearing a face mask in line with public health restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic . (Ronen Zvulun/ Pool Photo via AP)

Israeli leaders have unveiled a £20 billion economic rescue package for firms and families hit by the coronavirus lockdown, as thousands planned to protest a lack of paid support this weekend.

In a press conference on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yisrael Katz laid out a new economic plan for workers financially affected by the pandemic, with support available until June next year.

The money will help staff made redundant, laid off or placed on unpaid leave, while the self-employed will receive a £1,700 grant next week and small businesses will receive a £1,500 grant for two months.

It coincided with the highest daily total of new infections yet, with 1,460 new cases, as ministers battle growing dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the pandemic amid a second wave that is markedly worse than the first.

“Coping with the virus requires responsible decision-making,” said Netanyahu. “The decisions are made by trial and error. Try, err, repair. In the first wave, we had success. As a result, we lowered the morbidity statistics to a handful of people infected per day.”

President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday criticised the government’s failure to develop what he called a “clear coronavirus doctrine” and urged the formation of a central state body to coordinate the state’s response to the pandemic.

Anger at Netanyahu’s perceived mishandling of the virus is scheduled to be voiced in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday night. Protesters cite a “lack of confidence created between us and the government” which they described as “unprecedented”.

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