Haaretz Editorial

Two States

Government's settlement policy, one of the main obstacles to peace, also the primary cause of the economic gap separating Israelis and Israelis.

The Green Line has turned into a dividing line between two states: a state of budget cuts in sovereign Israeli territory and a welfare state in the land of the settlers. Hardly a day goes by without an announcement of a tax increase and a budget cut, and alongside that an announcement of a new grant for settlers, or another investment in a group whose size does not amount to five percent of the population of Israel. The government's settlement policy, in addition to being one of the main obstacles to peace and security for Israel and the Palestinians, is also the primary cause of the economic and social gap separating Israelis and Israelis.

 Chaim Levinson reported in Haaretz on Wednesday that the government plans for the first time ever to approve grants for the construction of hotels and tourist attractions in Ma'aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion totaling 10 to 20 percent of the building costs. These grants will be funded through budget cuts and income from higher taxes. Last week Haaretz reported that salaried workers who leave their jobs are entitled to severance pay if they move to a settlement and maintain a residence there for six months. The week before that, the minister of finance announced his decision to allocate a grant of millions of shekels to the Ariel University Center.

This week, the financial paper, Calcalist, reported that official Central Bureau of Statistics data show that government investment over the Green Line increased 38 percent last year compared to the year before that, while the state budget grew just 2.7 percent in the same time period. These data indicate that investment in residents of West Bank communities is 80 percent greater than what they should be receiving based on their relative share of the population. Deducting the investments from the U.S. guarantees to Israel costs the state some NIS 6 billion.

In an interview with Channel Two, the prime minister was dismissive of the contradiction between his remarks about economic constraints necessitating welfare cuts for Israel's citizens and his government's largess toward citizens living on the other side of the Green Line. Benjamin Netanyahu is misleading the public: every benefit granted as part of the settlement policy comes at the expense of the residents of the state within the Green Line, who are left to moan about the tax burden and other harmful decrees.