Illegal Settler Outposts Received $3 Million in Public Funds

Mateh Binyamin transferred money from 2008 to 2014.

The sewage treatment plant in Ofra, 2014.
Dror Etkes

The Mateh Binyamin Regional Council transferred over 11 million shekels ($3 million) to illegal outposts within its jurisdiction between 2008 and 2014. Using budgetary instruments available to regional councils for investment in infrastructure, public funds were used for developing such infrastructure and construction in several illegal outposts.

Thus, for example, in 2014 the council transferred almost 200,000 shekels for erecting structures in several outposts, including Mitzpeh Danny, Haresha, Givat Harel, Kida and Kerem Re’im. In 2010 over 1,700,000 shekels went to Givat Harel. The budget shows money going for the construction of other illegal structures including a yeshiva in Kochav Hashahar. Over 5 million shekels went to a sewage treatment plant in Ofra, which was built illegally on private Palestinian land.

The regional council gave financial support for expanding the settlement of Shvut Rachel while it was still an illegal outpost, years before the expansion was retroactively approved. In 2008 it received 310,701 shekels while in 2009, while still an outpost, it was awarded two budgets – one worth 1,630,010 shekels and the other 600,000 shekels. In 2010 it again received two budgets, worth 188,000 shekels each.

Overall, the details of the council’s budgetary expenses show that between 2008 and 2014 it invested over 11 million shekels in illegal outposts and structures. These funds were part of the official budgets the outposts received, with their names specified. Law enforcement agencies confirmed that the outposts and structures receiving this money were illegal, or illegal when receiving the money.

The Peace Now movement is about to publish a report showing the involvement of regional councils in financing such illegal outposts. According to Hagit Ofran, who is part of a Peace Now team monitoring settlements in the West Bank, Mateh Binyamin was but one case. “This is part of an entire system by which these councils use public funds to create facts on the ground. This is only the part that was uncovered. There is clearly a whole system whereby illegal outposts are funded by these councils, while the government turns a blind eye, letting it proceed,” she says.