Middle East

Israel won’t extend COVID-19 jobless benefits past June

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Israeli Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman arrives to attend the first weekly cabinet meeting of the new government in Jerusalem June 20, 2021. Emmanuel Dunand/Pool via REUTERS

JERUSALEM, June 22 (Reuters) - Israel’s jobless benefits for those made unemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic will cease as of June 30, the new finance minister said on Tuesday, after the previous government held out the possibility of an extension.

With the economy recovering after a brisk vaccine rollout, some Israeli businesses have complained of staff shortfalls and blame the benefits - particularly for those on unpaid leave, or furlough - for keeping workers at home.

Israel extended benefits last year and the government of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said they might again be extended past their June 30 end-date - with eligibility narrowed to those over the age of 28 or with children.

But Avigdor Lieberman, finance minister in the new Israeli government sworn in last week, said benefits would end outright per schedule. A "case-by-case response" would be provided for unemployed over the age of 45, his office said in a statement.

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Writing by Dan Williams Editing by Mark Heinrich

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