Labor MK: Israel Gave Extra $172m to Settlements in Winter Knesset Session

'Instead of allocating tax money equitably and justly among all Israelis, one small group gets more than everyone under the table,’ charges Labor MK.

Nearly 600 million shekels ($172 million) were transferred to the settlements through budget adjustments that the government requested from the Knesset during the winter session, according to MK Stav Shaffir (Labor).

Shaffir, who collected the statistics, said that, among other things, the Knesset approved transferring 133 million shekels to the World Zionist Organization’s settlement division; 36 million shekels in compensation for the settlement construction freeze in 2009; 24 million for “young settlement” in the West Bank; and 28 million shekels to complete work in the Beit El settlement.

These sums were not included in the state budget passed last July. They were brought to the Knesset Finance Committee as requests for budgetary changes, even though in most cases these allocations were planned beforehand, she said. For example, compensation for the 2009 building freeze has been allocated to local authorities in the West Bank annually since 2010, but these funds were not included in the budget.

According to Shaffir, these monies are indicative of the government’s true priorities. “The government keeps this overfunding a secret from the public, because what will they think in Be’er Sheva, Haifa or Jerusalem when they find out that across the Green Line they get houses, summer camps and public buildings for free, at the expense of the rest of Israel’s citizens?” she said.

“Instead of allocating tax money equitably and justly among all Israelis, one small group gets more than everyone under the table,” she added. “Only thusly, when funds are transferred far from the public eye, can the government make believe it is working on behalf of the middle class or toward a framework agreement, and at the same time funnel huge budgets for developing the settlements.” Shaffir added that she will continue to track the numbers and reveal them, until government priorities were made totally transparent.

The Knesset Finance Committee will tomorrow be asked to transfer another 177 million shekels to the settlement division – the executive arm for government construction of rural housing and infrastructure whose primary activity is over the Green Line, and which is not required to report on its activities under the Freedom of Information Law.