Netanyahu Proposes $4.6 Billion Aid to Boost Virus Recovery

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented plans for more economic stimulus to help Israel rebound from the pandemic, trying to book-end a world-beating vaccine drive two months before national elections.

Sunday’s proposal was short on details but included items such as 750 shekel ($229) checks for individuals, grants and tax breaks for struggling businesses, and reforms to encourage pension fund investments in technology and infrastructure, according to a presentation from Netanyahu’s office.

In a televised address alongside Finance Minister Israel Katz, Netanyahu referenced U.S. Treasury Secretary-designate Janet Yellen’s call to “go big” with President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion aid package, as underpinning his decision to seek more stimulus. The new Israeli aid program is worth 15 billion shekels ($4.6 billion), a spokesman for Katz said.

The prime minister swatted away a reporter’s question implying that the measures were designed to boost his chances in the March 23 election, saying that the government cannot wait another two months to help those suffering economically from the crisis.

The government has announced 208 billion shekels in aid up to this point.

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