Elon Moreh
The settlement of Elon Moreh, with the city of Nablus in the background. Photo by AP
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Finance Minister Yair Lapid ordered a halt to all state payments to Jewish settlements in the West Bank, pending a clarification of how the funds are used, the treasury announced Saturday night.

In a statement, the Finance Ministry cited an Israel Channel 2 television report and other sources regarding the seemingly illegal transfer of funds intended for settlements to the Yesha Council of settlements.

The statement noted that local councils in the West Bank receive state funds to compensate them for losses incurred as a result of Israel’s freeze on construction in the settlements.

It said the suspension of payments was ordered “in light of information that these funds apparently are not being used for their original purpose, such as security and maintenance of school and kindergartens, but rather are being allegedly transferred to the Yesha Council – which uses the funds for political purposes, including activities against government policy.”

Lapid instructed ministry officials, including the head of the budget division, the accountant general and the legal adviser, to investigate the issue and submit their conclusions within a week, the announcement said. The statement noted that the funds in questions were paid to the settlements during the previous government.