West Bank Council Gave $10m to Group That Sets Up Illegal Outposts

Authorities failed to stipulate the purpose of funds transferred between 2013 and 2015 to organization involved in the establishment of many illegal settlements and outposts

File photo: The illegal West Bank outpost of Amona, which has since been evacuated, in 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi

A regional council in the West Bank allocated at least 37 million shekels ($10.1 million) in 2013-15 to an organization that establishes illegal outposts in the territories.

The Binyamin Regional Council assigned the funds to Amana without clearly stipulating the purpose for which they were meant.

The council transferred 15 million shekels to the organization in early 2013 and an additional 12 million shekels at the end of the year. At the end of the following 2014, the council gave Amana another 10 million shekels.

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The figures were obtained through the Freedom of Information Law at the request of Peace Now. According to the data, no specific purpose was listed for the transfer of the funds; rather, they were designated “for the establishment and development of settlements” in the regional council’s area of jurisdiction. However, during those years, no legal settlement was established within the border of the council. No purpose was specified for the funds transferred in 2014 either.

The figures also revealed that in 2013, Amana also received 34.5 million shekels from other regional councils.

Amana is headed by Zeev Hever, a prominent settlement leader who is a former member of the Jewish underground. Amana was involved in the establishment of many illegal settlements and outposts, among them Amona, Migron and the nine houses evacuated in the settlement of Ofra.

Haaretz has published a number of investigative reports about the alleged illegal manner in which Amana operates, particularly by means of its subsidiaries, Binyanei Bar Amana, to establish illegal settlements, sometimes on private Palestinian land.

“The channeling of public money to Amana, which builds illegal settlements and outposts, is known, but the mechanisms by which the money is transferred, and the extent, is not known,” said Shabtay Bendet, the director of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch Project.

“The Interior Ministry must check into the issue, demand that money back and prevent future transfers,” he added.

The Binyamin Regional Council said in response: “According to support protocols, any nonprofit association may receive support. The Amana movement is a cooperative society, and the support protocols permit support to cooperative societies.”

The council said it strictly supervises the money it disperses in keeping with these protocols, adding that the money was given to Amana to strengthen settlement in the region in general and in the Binyamin Regional Council in particular.

“Most of the settlements in the regional council belong to the Amana settlement movement,” the council said.

Amana did not respond for this report.