Without Money, There's No Yesha

Recently, the settlers announced that when they go out for long demonstrations of several days, the day-care centers and the kindergartens will remain open 24 hours a day. The local councils will pay for overtime and for other expenses.

The Yesha Council, representing the settlements in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, says that what we have seen so far is only a mild introduction to what we can expect in the coming months. They are planning to establish a "resistance army," which will paralyze traffic throughout the country and will force the Israel Defense Forces and the police to surrender and declare: It's impossible to evacuate.

To confront the IDF general staff, they will establish a general staff of their own: An operations division will initiate and run the demonstrations and meetings; a logistics division will handle the transportation of the thousands of demonstrators to their destinations; an intelligence division will gather information about the moves of the army and the police; and of course, an information division will deal with the media.

The Yesha Council - whose name is deceptive - is working on all of this. The council is no longer a regional council in the territories, but a voluntary organization that has replaced Gush Emunim (the original settlers' movement). It is a private, political association, exactly like Peace Now, but with one big difference: the huge resources at its disposal.

When the Yesha Council organizes a demonstration, it has no problem of mobilizing participants. An ordinary working person who wants to attend a demonstration during the day cannot do so. His or her workplace will not grant permission for a "strike day." It will be deducted from his salary. This is certainly the case when the activity goes on for weeks.

Difficulties like that don't exist in the territories. Most of the people there have no problem being absent from work. Most of them work for the local authority, for bodies and associations connected to the authority, in government ministries and in the security services - and they are all mobilized. For example, the number of settlers who are involved in education in the territories is the highest in the country: 21 percent (!) of all those employed. On the other hand, the percentage of those employed in the manufacturing sector is the lowest in the country.

Recently, the settlers announced that when they go out for long demonstrations of several days, the day-care centers and the kindergartens will remain open 24 hours a day. The local councils will pay for overtime and for other expenses. Where does all this big money come from?

The main source of funding for the Yesha Council comes from cities and local authorities in the territories. Beitar Illit, for example, handed over NIS 430,000 last year. The Mt. Hebron Regional Council handed over NIS 231,000. This is money that the authorities receive from the various government ministries. In other words, the government is funding the struggle against it.

In addition, the organizers of the demonstrations benefit from the tremendous logistical assistance of the local authorities. Their yellow buses stand at the disposal of the organizers of the demonstrations, and they will also supply generators, tents and all other necessities.

To what can this be compared? It is as if Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai were to decide to transfer part of the municipal budget, plus logistical assistance, for the activity of Peace Now. That is manifestly impossible. Peace Now is even obliged to pay the municipality for the use of Rabin Square during a demonstration.

Ten years ago, Haim Greenberg petitioned the High Court of Justice against this insane situation. He petitioned against the Katzrin Regional Council in the Golan Heights, claiming that it (and others) were funding the "The Nation is with the Golan" campaign, without legal authority for doing so. The law authorizes the local authorities to be responsible only for the welfare of the residents in the economic, social and cultural spheres, and not to handle subjects of national political significance.

The petition was rejected. Two justices said that the activity of the local councils could be justified even on national issues, if it affects them personally. But Justice Dalia Dorner said, in a minority opinion, that the local councils do not have the authority to fund a political campaign against the withdrawal from the Golan, because the local authority is not the state, and its job is to provide "municipal services" rather than to deal with "national affairs."

Dorner's view was based on an opinion written by none other than Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, who at the time was the deputy attorney general. He wrote that "the decisions about the future of the Golan Heights are a clear national political issue that affects the entire public, and not a local municipal issue of the residents of Katzrin."

Recently, Peace Now petitioned the High Court of Justice against the regional councils in the territories that are participating in funding the campaign to prevent the disengagement. Mazuz has not changed his opinion of 10 years ago. Now, as the attorney general, he told the court that Dorner's approach is the correct one, and that the state is not opposed to having the court serve an injunction to stop the support of the councils in funding the resistance to the disengagement.

When U.S. President George W. Bush decided to fight the danger of Islamic fundamentalism that was behind the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, he looked for the money trail. He examined and investigated the origin of the money that was reaching the bank accounts of those same organizations - and turned off the source of oxygen. In that way, he suffocated extremist fundamentalism.

The Israeli government is more refined, more considerate, more cowardly. It continues to fund the war against it with its own money. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is allowing the plan to bring him down to be paid for via the state budget. That is how a State of Chelm behaves. The money trail must be blocked off.