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Israel to compensate military widows

(Xinhua)

10:06, November 14, 2011

JERUSALEM, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- After more than a decade of legal battles, the widows of soldiers killed while on reserve duty in the Israeli army will receive special financial compensation, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday notified the Knesset parliament's Ministerial Committee for Legislation that he will allot 250 million shekels (67.5 million U.S. dollars) of his ministry's budget for widows of reservists killed from 1948 to 1999.

Each family will receive a special, one-time grant of 100,000 shekels (27,000 dollars), with the first half slated for payment by the end of 2012 and the remainder in 2013, in addition to the benefits it is already entitled to, according to the statement.

In 2002, the Knesset approved the Reservists' Widows Stipend Law, which aimed to equalize the benefits awarded to widows of reservists to those of bereaved families of professional soldiers who had a life insurance policy during their military career via a special grant.

But the new law limited the list of entitled widows to those whose husbands were killed from 1999 onward, prompting widows of soldiers killed in the decades prior to that year to petition the Supreme Court, which rejected their demand to be included.

Since then, the government has discussed several alternatives and held negotiations with representatives of widows excluded by the law, in a bid to find a satisfactory settlement.

Israel spends a fortune of its annual defense budget on mandatory financial compensation to spouses of servicemen and women killed in action or in training accidents, with the latter accounting for most fatalities. Widows or widowers are eligible to a life-long monthly stipend determined according to the number of dependents in the household.

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