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Israel poverty rate rises to 2m

An Israeli government report for 2021 showed that 2 million were living below the poverty line, with Palestinian citizens of Israel and the elderly seeing the biggest change in circumstances from 2020.

January 12, 2023 at 5:29 pm

Poverty rates in Israel have increased, with data suggesting that about two million people live below the poverty line, with Palestinian citizens of Israel and the elderly worst affected, the annual poverty report issued by the National Insurance Institute revealed today.

The report was published hours after the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich, announced the government’s plan, which aims to confront the high cost of living, by limiting the rise in water, electricity and fuel prices, and freezing procedures for raising the property tax (Arnona).

The report indicates that the poverty rate in Israel for 2021 is nearly double the rate in the OECD countries. This represents an increase compared to 2020, when there were 1,877,594 people living below the poverty line in Israel.

According to the report, between 2020 and 2021, the percentage of poor families increased from 20.6 per cent to 21.0 per cent, the percentage of poor citizens increased from 20.5 per cent to 21.0 per cent, and the percentage of poor children increased from 27.2 per cent to 28.0 per cent.

The figures also show that 36.5 per cent of Palestinians in Israel are classed as living below the poverty line, by contrast 23 per cent of the overall population are in poverty and 18 per cent of Jewish citizens.

For the ultra-Orthodox Jewish minority, however, the situation is quite different with 50 per cent deemed poor.

The National Insurance Institute described the increases as “moderate”, noting that the estimates give rise to optimism due to what it described as “the impressive recovery in the labour market, including the increase in employment in the labour market.”

However, as the percentage of working families living below the poverty line remained almost unchanged; it is not clear how citizens from vulnerable socioeconomic classes have benefited from this “recovery”.

Poverty rates among the elderly rose from 16.4 per cent in 2020 to 17.6 per cent in 2021, the report found. It said these figures would fall in 2022 due to incoming increases to benefits for the elderly.

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