The Knesset Labor and Welfare Committee has approved for its second and third reading a law that will allow octogenarians to move to the head of the line at banks, post offices and public institutions. The law will apply to offices such as National Insurance, municipalities and utilities, as well as places of entertainment and supermarkets.
The law will not apply in hospitals, doctors’ offices, health maintenance organization offices, and other medical settings where the criteria is how much medical treatment an individual needs. In addition, an individual with a physical disability will take precedence over an individual 80 or older. A service provider will be allowed to request an ID card as proof of age for an 80-year-old who demands precedence in standing on line.
Despite approving the law, several members of the committee expressed reservations about it. Committee chairman MK Eli Alalouf (Kulanu) said that while the law’s intentions were admirable, “not everything needs to be subject to legislation.” The law, he said, could lead “to public disputes that could get out of control, such as on days when National Insurance stipends are distributed. There are so many injustices the elderly are subjected to, is this the most important issue to deal with?”
In response to the criticism, MK Itzik Shmuely (Zionist Camp), who sponsored the bill, said that he wished it was not needed. “If only we lived in a place where it was understood that the elderly deserve preferential treatment. Unfortunately, I am afraid that my generation is the last one where people get up on the bus to give their seats to the elderly,” he said.