Justice in Israel

Success adopting legislation protecting people in poverty carrying debt

0 Comments 14 February 2018

Applause accompanied the vote last week over the Insolvency and Economic Rehabilitation bill, highlighting that the painful problems relating to debt of individuals and companies must be resolved.

RHR social justice lawyer Becky Cohen-Keshet at the Knesset

In part due to the hard work of Rabbis for Human Rights, the new legislation is expected to improve the situation for those living in poverty carrying debt. Despite this success, some unanswered questions on the legislation and its implementation remain.

In Israel, many living in poverty fall into debt simply because they need to survive. The new law shifts the focus to the necessity of assisting people out of debt, improving their situation and recognizing the structural failures that bring people into debt in the first place while also striking a balance between the need to collect debt and the rights of the debtors. The law alters the discourse — debtors are no longer “people with bad payment morality” but often “those who have suffered a failure of credit.” The new law also creates a clear procedure for the debtor to follow in order to potentially receive partial debt forgiveness and thus support on a possible path towards a clean new start. The promise to “rehabilitate” the debtors that appears in the title of the law is not yet anchored in the law’s regulations and policies. It is not yet clear if that promise will be realized, and RHR will continue to push for implementation of this critical point.

Attorney Becky Cohen-Keshet:

“The concern that remains is the existence of separate tracks for debtors living in poverty and for those who are not, even when the former are directed to a governmental body more focused on collections than rehabilitation. The [Knesset] committee listened to the voices of people living in poverty who attended the deliberations and contributed their knowledge towards the finalization of the law, which in the end incorporated some of the amendments proposed by Rabbis for Human Rights. One of the most significant issues in which we have been able to improve the situation of debtors living in poverty is around the protection of their apartment.”

A study to examine the impact of the law will be held following its implication. We welcome the changes in thinking as well as the adoption of many positive changes. We hope that the implementation of the law will reflect Rashi’s belief that we must lift up, both financially and socially, those in poverty, and that the State of Israel has a responsibility to ensure a life of dignity for all its residents in general and for those living in poverty in particular.

We will continue to follow and see how what affect this important law will actually on small-scale debtors.

Share your view

Post a comment

© 2018 Rabbis for Human Rights. Powered by WordPress.