Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana decided to allocate millions of shekels to building synagogues and religious structures in West Bank settlements, illegal outposts and communities of former Gush Katif settlers.
Seven of the 30 synagogues to be built nationwide will be in West Bank settlements and outposts. Three others will be located in communities of former residents of Gush Katif, the Jewish Gaza Strip settlement bloc evacuated during the 2005 disengagement.
Kahana also decided to earmark 25 percent of the ministry’s aid budget to building Jewish ritual bathhouses to mikvehs beyond the Green Line. The ministry will allocate funds to synagogues in the settlements Kerem Reim, which was established as an outpost north of Jerusalem and officially recognized four years ago; Shama in the southern Hebron Hills; Moshav Gitit in the Jordan Valley; Leshem, which is in the municipality of Ale Zahav; Avnat, on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea; Emanuel, south of Nablus; and Givat Ze'ev, north of Jerusalem.
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In response to the decision, Meretz MK Mossi Raz said, "Kahana has decided to discriminate against residents within the green line, and to build a quarter of the synagogues in his ministry's budget over the green line. This does not only strengthen the settlement enterprise, which is harmful for Israel's future, it acts inequitably in allocating resources to every worshiper within Israel's borders."
In November, the ministry issued an appeal to distribute aid funds for building synagogues. One of the clauses in the proposal stated that priority would be given to communities in the West Bank, making it easier for the ministry to implement the recent allocations announced by Kahane.
Priority would be given, the proposal said, "in the event that the community or neighborhood is located in a security-sensitive area, including communities or neighborhoods near a border, up to nine kilometers from the Lebanon border and up to seven kilometers from another border or from the Gaza Strip, as well as in Judea and Samaria,” referring to the West Bank.