When United Torah Judaism inked its coalition agreement with Likud on April 29, party members triumphantly hailed the reversal of a slew of legislative measures implemented by arch-nemesis Yair Lapid, including an increase in monthly child allowances — but it came with one caveat.
Under the terms of the coalition deal, which appointed party member Yaakov Litzman deputy health minister, “the National Insurance law will be amended, such that child allowances will not be given in cases where a parent refuses to vaccinate their child.”
That condition — which did not specify which vaccines would be included — revives a six-year-old debate on the legality of linking over the past few years welfare benefits to vaccinations. It also comes on the heels of a quiet climb in the number of parents opting out of some or all vaccinations, primarily from within some segments of the ultra-Orthodox community as well as Bedouin families in southern Israel with limited access to medical treatment (another group is found among upper-to-middle class Israelis, based on ideological grounds).
The Haredim and Bedouin, among those most resistant to inoculations, are also among Israel’s most impoverished and have the largest families, so they are ultimately the most dependent on the monthly allowances. Hinging benefits on vaccinations, then, puts them in a tight spot.