New State Budget Gives Settlements NIS 2 Billion – and More

Security expenses for settlers living in Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem went up in the new budget, reaching NIS 3,160 per settler.

The 2011-2012 budget, approved on Wednesday by the Knesset, allocates NIS 2 billion to settlements, their services and security, and hundreds of millions of shekels more hidden among the different clauses of the bill.

According to the budget, 200 housing units will be marketed in Maaleh Adumim next year, with NIS 58 million allocated to the city’s development in 2011 and NIS 31 million in 2012. In 2011, 500 housing units will be marketed in the Har Homa neighborhood beyond the Green Line in Jerusalem; NIS 238 million will be spent on its development over the next two years.

shepherd near the settlement of Revava, AP

The budget also indicates the settlement division of the World Zionist Organization supports at least 16 illegal outposts: The Central Bureau of Statistics lists the number of official settlements in the West Bank at 120, but the budget say the WZO works in 136 communities.

The treasury also allocated NIS 180 million to Route 20, a road set to link Jerusalem’s Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood to Route 45, toward Modi’in and Tel Aviv. Peace Now, which traced the settlement support clauses in the budget, said yesterday Route 20 was a clear obstacle to peace, as it cuts across neighborhoods meant to become a part of the Palestinian state.

Some NIS 225 million were allocated to repairing the road between the Adumim plain and the Good Samaritan junction, and Pisgat Ze’ev and the Zeitim intersection.

The state will also transfer more than NIS 22 million to exporters operating from settlements, to compensate for the loss of sales to the European Union, which no longer recognizes settlement produce as Israeli produce under the terms of its free trade agreement.

Security expenses for settlers living in Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem went up in the new budget, reaching NIS 3,160 per settler. This represents a rise of 40 percent in the settler security budget, from NIS 54.5 million in 2010 to NIS 146 million in 2011 and 2012.

Most of the settlements have been defined as areas of first national priority, in which the Israel Land Administration subsidizes 69 percent of the cost of land, or second national priority areas, in which the subsidy reaches 49 percent of the price of the land.

The purchasers of flats in a national priority area can receive a subsidized loan up to NIS 97,000, whether the flats are located in a priority area within Israel or in the West Bank. The housing assistance budget comes up to NIS 87,368 million in 2011, and NIS 86,518 million in 2012.

The Judea and Samaria Higher Education Council, responsible for all post-high school educational institutions operating in settlements will receive NIS 900 million to support three colleges. The state’s share in school buses in settlements using bullet-proof buses that are bullet proof will reach 90 percent, as opposed to other local councils, where it comes up to between 40 percent and 85 percent. Subsidies for public transport ‏(described as “support for other populations,” meaning settlers and the ultra-Orthodox‏) will reach NIS 31 million per year, and protecting buses with armor or window bars will cost another NIS 10 million.

Every settler can request that his personal car get added protection from stones at the state’s expense, and the overall reinforcement and security ingredients in settlements and conflict zone areas reaches over NIS 630 million.

Most of the settlement budget is concealed in general clauses, and the budget itself lacks regional detail, making it impossible to find how much of which clause is destined for settlements.

As the settlements issue is politically controversial, Peace Now said it demands the ministries be obliged to report on the geographic allocation of the budget so as to allow for better monitoring of this information.