Opinion

Settlers’ Windfall in Netiv Ha’avot

60 million shekels. This is the collective sum of the settler lottery win. This is the hush money we’ll pay for a 'quiet evacuation' of the settlers in Netiv Ha'avot

Zvi Bar'el
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Houses slated for demolition at the illegal West Bank outpost of Netiv Ha'avot.
Houses slated for demolition at the illegal West Bank outpost of Netiv Ha'avot.Credit: Emil salman
Zvi Bar'el

A million shekels’ worth of gifts? Favorable news coverage in return for preferential treatment for the owner’s businesses? You want to prosecute a prime minister over this? If you’re looking for real corruption — the daylight robbery of taxpayers, without investigations, the attorney general or long nights in the police fraud unit; corruption in which all Israelis are state’s witnesses by virtue of their tacit agreement in its execution — then avert your gaze away from the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem and toward the West Bank outpost of Netiv Ha’avot.

There, 15 plundering families lived happily, having seized five and a half dunams (1.4 acres) of Palestinian land, built housing in total violation of every law and spent years ignoring demolition orders from the Civil Administration.

But that’s only the beginning. Thanks to a cabinet resolution, they are about to become millionaires at our expense. No calculators or complicated formulas are necessary here. It’s all very simple and plain to see: the theft, the compensation and also the middle finger.

This is how it looks: 39 million shekels ($11.2 million) will be allocated to the Etzion Bloc Regional Council “to help defray the cost of building temporary housing” for the evacuated families. That is, over 2.25 million shekels per family, around the price of a non-temporary apartment in Jerusalem. Two and a quarter million shekels for hotel accommodations for three months, until the double-wide mobile homes (“caravillas”) are put up. And if the government dilly-dallies, we’ll pay another 750,000 shekels for each additional month. This comes to 1,500 shekels a day per family for accommodations. The only thing that isn’t clear is whether it’s full board or breakfast only. This, when very nice family-size apartments go for 7,000 shekels a month in Jerusalem, and much less in the settlements, or 315,000 shekels for all of the squatters for three months.

How did the government come up with this figure of 2.25 million shekels? And no, it doesn’t cover compensation for packing and moving fees. For that, we’ll donate yet another four million shekels, or a quarter million shekels to each criminal family. Ah, so maybe some is meant to serve as compensation for the houses that will be torn down? Perish the thought. In fact, in compensation for the brazen act of theft, we’ll pay yet another 24 million shekels, or an average of 1.5 million shekels for each of the demolished buildings.

If all these numbers made your head spin, just remember this one figure: 60 million shekels. This is the collective sum of the settler lottery win. This is the hush money we’ll pay for a “quiet evacuation.”

How did Shlomo Ne’eman, head of the Etzion Bloc Regional Council, describe it to Arutz Sheva? “This will do right by the residents in some small part, and it is most necessary.” How right and how modest. We certainly would have been willing to pay more, but unfortunately that’s all we can afford at the moment. We appreciate your understanding. Next time, we’ll pay more, and we’ll make sure that the robbers of lands and roads are given only the finest accommodations.

They deserve it; more accurately, we deserve to have pay for them. We didn’t meet the gang’s expectations, as Ne’eman explained, “We are grateful that the whole country helped to obtain these caravillas, even if it could not meet all the rules that are the result of excessive and unreasonable legal interference.”

Translation: The entire country, yes, you there, too — Khadija from Arraba and Ahmed from Umm al-Hiran, pitched in, but alas, even the government couldn’t sate the beast’s appetite, but not for lack of desire. Its hands were tied by those merciless aliens in the form of laws and the courts that landed on them from out of the blue. But that’s it, it’s over. Whoever wants to live by the law shall pay hush money. Whoever wants money and/or free land, building costs, comfy accommodations and development money, we have another country for you, just around the corner.

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