Israeli Cabinet Approves $11.5m in Funding for Security in W. Bank Settlements

The leader of the Arab Joint List, Ayman Odeh, calls on the attorney general to examine whether the move is a bid by Netanyahu to 'buy' political support

Netanyahu meeting with the heads of the Yesha Council.
Kobi Gideon/GPO

The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved an allocation of 40 million shekels ($11.5 million) for West Bank settlements.

Most of the sum — 34.5 million shekels — is a one-time grant for security needs of Jewish communities in the territory. The remaining 5.5 million shekels is earmarked for the construction of first aid stations.

An announcement of the intended allocation was issued by the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the heads of the Yesha Council of settlements. At the end of the meeting, the council issued a statement “express[ing] support for the prime minister and appreciation for his leadership of the country at present.”

After Sunday’s cabinet meeting MK Ayman Odeh, the chairman of the Joint List alliance of predominantly Arab parties, sent a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit demanding an examination of the constitutionality of the allocation. Odeh said the circumstances of its approval “raise a grave suspicion of a budget allocation in exchange for a political favor.” Odeh demanded to know whether the allocation had been subject to judicial review and whether professionals in the government were considering its cancellation.

“Netanyahu has done the two things that he loves, at the same time, misappropriating public funds for his personal benefit and expanding the settlement enterprise in order to deepen the occupation,” Odeh said.

“It is unconscionable for the head of a transitional government to use the money belonging to all of us to buy the support of the heads of the Yesha Council of settlements for his public battle against the legal system. I demand that the allocation be canceled and its funds directed into the program to curb domestic violence, which has been waiting for funding since its approval in 2017,” Odeh said.

After Thursday’s meeting, which was held in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, Yesha Council Chairman David Alhayani said: “Mr. Prime Minister, the heads of the local authorities in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley express their support for you and strengthen you. We want to see a continuation of your blessed work for the State of Israel. We are at your side.”

The council said in a statement that the participants discussed “the possibilities of establishing a government that would support and strengthen Israeli settlement” as well as extending Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea region, which are in the West Bank.