The Israeli Cabinet on Sunday approved an NIS 8.5 billion ($2.5 billion) aid package to stimulate the country’s struggling economy, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The aim of the plan—presented by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Israel Katz—is to “accelerate the economy, and assist government ministries and populations at risk in dealing with the [coronavirus] crisis,” according to a government statement.

The package includes “incentives for our economy” and will create jobs, said Netanyahu.

“The decision allocates budgets for a series of projects in transportation, infrastructures for housing, technology and high-tech, tourism, sports, social welfare, energy efficiency and other fields,” said the government statement.

Also on Sunday, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics reported that Israel’s GDP dropped by 28.7 percent during the second quarter of 2020, its sharpest decline in more than 40 years.

“The economic situation is the most difficult in the state’s [72-year] history,” Katz told Israel’s Army Radio.

However, in a statement on social media, Netanyahu maintained that the decline in the Israeli economy in a quarterly configuration is 7.8 percent, “among the smallest drops in the world.”

He said only South Korea and “perhaps another two, three countries” had weathered the economic storm better than Israel during the period of April through June.

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